UC Irvine doctors implant telescopes into eye patients

UC Irvine ophthalmologists were the first in Orange County to implant tiny telescopes in two patients suffering from age-related, end-stage macular degeneration, the university announced Monday.

Doctors from the university's Gavin Herbert Eye Institute in December inserted one of the 4-millimeter telescopes into an 85-year-old Irvine resident's eye and another in a 94-year-old Anaheim resident's eye, according to a UCI statement.

The devices restore limited vision by projecting an image onto the undamaged section of the retina, enabling patients to recognize faces, read and perform daily activities.

After the implant, the Irvine resident was able to see her son's face for the first time in more than a decade.

The institute is one of few in the country performing the procedure, which theU.S. Food and Drug Administrationapproved in 2010.

The surgery is covered by Medicare, the university said.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of sight loss common among adults older than 50, according to the National Institutes of Health. Smokers, Caucasians and those with a family history are most at risk, according to the institutes.

— Lauren Williams

Twitter: @lawilliams30

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