The following is an NBC News Health article.
Hindman, a college coach, and a racehorse owner with severe macular degeneration found doctors at the Wilmer Eye Institute at the Johns Hopkins Hospital who have been helping patients see better with a tiny device that can be surgically implanted in the eye.
The device was given Food and Drug Administration approval and is now covered by Medicare. For those paying out of pocket, the cost of the device is $15,000, not including surgery or rehabilitation.
At the institute, doctors implanted a miniature telescope behind the iris of Hindman’s left eye. The device magnifies what’s in front of Hindman and projects it back onto the parts of his retina that haven’t been destroyed by the disease. The advantages of the telescope are that people can see detail much more clearly — people’s faces, television, looking out into the world.
Still, the device is not a panacea. “It’s important that patients know that this device is not going to allow them to drive,” says Dr. Oliver D. Schein, a professor of ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute. “It’s not going to let them read small print. But it may take someone who has had to give up reading entirely and get them to the point where they can read large print.”
Beyond that, the device requires months of therapy. It’s implanted in only one eye because it takes away peripheral vision. As a result, patients need therapy to help rewire their brains to use one eye to see directly in front of them and the other to see everything else.
The rehab isn’t for the faint hearted. “The therapy at first was very exhausting,” Hindman said. “I can remember at the end of a two hour session, just getting in the back seat of the car and going to sleep.”
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