People who have lost vision because of the eye condition macular degeneration have been given new hope, thanks to pioneering technology inspired by the Hubble Space Telescope.

There are two main types of macular degeneration: dry and wet. The dry form is slow-progressing and happens when light sensitive cells of the retina begin to die off. The wet form — the most serious type — can present suddenly and is caused by fluid leaking behind the retina.

When the condition occurs later in life it is known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). There is no cure and, for 90 per cent of sufferers, no effective treatment available. The World Health Organisation (WHO) notes that AMD ranks third among the global causes of visual impairment with a blindness prevalence of 8.7%.

 

A turning point in AMD treatment

Now, however, ground-breaking telescopic implant surgery co-created by Bobby Qureshi, Medical Director of the London Eye Hospital, and Professor Pablo Artal, of Murcia University in Spain, has been restoring vision lost by macular degeneration. During the procedure — called iolAMD — two tiny lenses placed inside the eye work together to act like a telescope, gently magnifying the image entering the eye and diverting it to a healthier part of the retina, reducing distortions and other aberrations.

This technology is aimed at all stages of the disease — not just advanced — and has helped people who had trouble seeing faces or the food on their plate; and it's helping people read again. It's a game-changer

“We can't restore the macular, but this is a huge leap forward,” says Qureshi. “The surgery can be carried out in 10 minutes by any cataract surgeon and there are no stitches required. Recovery time is a couple of weeks, there is no more risk of complication than there would be for a routine cataract operation, and the optics involved are hugely sophisticated.”

Since iolAMD received regulatory approval late last year, it is now available around the world and hundreds of patients have been treated. Qureshi, who first had the idea for the technology in 2006, hopes it might even be available on the NHS by 2018.

“Nearly half a billion people around the world are affected by macular degeneration and, as a result, are slowly going blind,” he says. “This technology is aimed at all stages of the disease — not just advanced — and has helped people who had trouble seeing faces or the food on their plate; and it's helping people read again. It's a game-changer."

Mr. Bobby Qureshi - Surgeon - http://www.londoneyehospital.com/consultants/mr-bobby-qureshi/