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#61 Retinal Implants -

I want to finish the year with a real uplifting blog. The enclosed  article comes from the October/November 2020 AARP magazine. The headline is Vision Loss Breakthrough.  The title  – Retinal Implants to restore sight impaired by age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

As you will learn only 15 patients were involved in the first trial. Larger clinical trials are now in the works.

          Anna Kuehl was scared. Ever since a diagnosis of dry macular degeneration in her late 40s- younger than most patients- she had been monitoring her sight, using a special tool known as an Amsler grid. (see blog #6) One day a large black area appeared in her left eye, and she went back to her doctors at the University of Southern California for help. There she discovered that a team of researchers was working on a promising treatment for her condition that involved stem cell-based implants. Even as she began taking the required immune-suppressant medication leading up to the surgery, she says, “I wasn’t scared anymore. I was looking forward to it.”

          Surgeons implanted the tiny device-about the size of a human red blood cell-into the retinas of 25 patients, including Keuhl. Now that some participants have passed the key one-year mark with improving vision, the procedure has cleared the way for a larger clinical trial.

          The treatment uses an ultrathin layer of specialized retinal cells to slow the progress of dry AMD. In some cases the procedure actually improves vision. That’s what happened to Kuehl. She can now read her watch and see her entire face in the mirror. “Shortly after the surgery, I turned to my husband while we were watching TV and said, ‘I can see all their faces!’”. Doctors say FDA approval is about five years away.

Even thought it might take five years, to me  it means hope. With that hope I wish you a happy new year and good health. May that good health include stable vision or even improved vision.

Also at the end of the article is a note – A refillable eye implant can deliver the AMD drug ranibizumab, eliminating the need for monthly injections. WOW. More hope with that statement.

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