Implantable telescope helps bring back sight to people with macular degeneration

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over 55. For those with end stage disease, there has been virtually no chance of seeing what is directly in front of them again.

But a new device, an implantable telescope, is changing that.

Retired nurse, 76-year-old JoAnn Zorn, had the device implanted in her left eye this summer. Now she has a critical part of her vision back.

Her left eye now twinkles. Light reflects off the tiny telescope implanted where her lens once was. It has brought back the central vision she lost to macular degeneration.

"The area that allows for central vision to watch TV, read a book, drive a car is called the macula when that macula is destroyed by an age related process there's essentially a hole in people's vision," explains Dr. Stephen Lane of Associated Eye Care.

"With the blind spot in both sides, both eyes, I would really have to get up close to see someone's face," says Zorn.

When implanted, the telescope magnifies central vision tremendously so while there is still a blind spot, patients see much more of what is directly ahead of them.

""Non-telescope eye basically sees things in the periphery and the telescope eye sees things centrally," says Dr. Lane.

It takes months of rehabilitation to learn to use each eye differently.