Samsara Vision supports patients as they work with a team of health care professionals, including a retina specialist, corneal surgeon, occupational therapist and low vision specialist, to determine if they are candidates for the IMT. If eligible and following outpatient surgery, patients work with occupational therapists and low-vision therapists to learn how to understand and use their new vision, often with personalized vision exercises tailored to their individual interests and vision goals. Over time, the majority of patients’ ability to use central vision improves as does their quality of life as they regain the ability to participate in the activities meaningful to them.
The first step involves a complete eye examination and a review of your medical history, including any conditions that may make the procedure difficult for you or increase the likelihood of complications. Your ophthalmologist will explain the potential benefits and safety risks of the telescope implantation surgery and answer any questions you may have.
During the Candidate Evaluation step, your vision will be tested with external telescope simulators. The results will help give you and your CentraSight Team information about what your vision may be like after the telescope implantation surgery and if the effect of the magnification in one eye will be useful to you. Low vision specialists will also talk to you about how your new post-surgical vision status may affect your everyday life and how following a visual training/rehabilitation program after surgery will help you reach your vision goals.
The implantation procedure is performed on only one eye. It involves removing the eye’s natural lens and replacing it with the tiny telescope implant. This part of the treatment is done in an outpatient setting by a specially trained ophthalmologist called a cornea/cataract surgeon.
After you have recovered from surgery, specially trained optometrists and occupational therapists will work with you to help you learn how to use your new vision – both when you are sitting still (for example, reading or watching TV), and when you are moving around (for example, walking or cooking).
Once implanted inside the eye, the telescope projects images in your field of view onto healthy areas of your central retina outside of the degenerated macula. The image is enlarged, reducing the effect the blind spot has on central vision. Normally the healthy areas outside of the macula are used for peripheral or “side vision.” The magnification provided by the telescope implant (2.2X or 2.7X) makes it possible to see or discern the central vision object of interest.
End-Stage Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects detailed central vision in both eyes. It does not affect peripheral vision. Peripheral vision is low resolution (blurry). You can’t use it to read, but you can use it to detect objects and movement. A patient who receives the IMT will use the eye with the telescopic implant for detailed central vision (such as reading “WALK” signs at a crosswalk). The other eye is used for peripheral vision (such as checking to see if cars are coming from the side).
The telescopic implant does not limit your natural eye movements and does not require you to move your entire head, as you have to do with external magnifying appliances. You can use natural eye movements to see things that are close and far away from you, such as reading printed materials or watching television. As a tradeoff to improving central vision, the peripheral (side) vision will be restricted in the eye with the telescope implant. However, your peripheral vision will stay the same as before the surgery in your non-implanted eye.
The brain is highly adaptable even at older ages. As a patient, you will work with low vision specialists to develop the skills you need to use your new vision. One of the skills you need to learn is how to switch your viewing back and forth between the eye with the telescope implant and the eye without the implant. You will also need to wear eyeglasses and may need to sometimes use a hand-held magnifier with the telescope-implanted eye to read or see fine details clearly. However, in general, less magnification will be needed after your surgery.
The telescope is virtually unnoticeable to others because it is implanted totally inside the eye, and mostly covered by the colored portion of the eye (iris).
Unfortunately, there currently are no medical treatments available for patients with End-Stage Age-Related Macular Degeneration. External appliances worn outside the eye are used by some patients with End-Stage AMD in an attempt to improve vision, but these devices have practical limitations.
Most regional Medicare contractors have established coverage policies for the FDA-approved IMT. We have reimbursement specialists to assist health providers and their patients through the Medicare reimbursement process.