First Phoenix Patient Recieves CentraSight Implantable Telescope for AMD

A telescope implanted in your eye? It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie but it could help thousands of Arizonans see.

Doctors say the newly FDA approved procedure is a breakthrough for the 10-million Americans living with macular degeneration. “You get kind of amazed sitting there looking at everything,” Richard Clarida, who just had a tiny microscope implanted in his right eye, said.

Ten years ago Clarida started noticing his vision was going bad in both eyes. “I got a brand new pair of glasses and a month later I couldn’t see things,” Clarida said. “I said, ‘There’s something wrong with these glasses, that wasn’t the case it was me.”

About 10 million Americans have macular degeneration. “It builds up gradually over many years and then once you hit a threshold, boom the patient can notice it,” Dr. Derek Kunimoto, with Retinal Consultants of Arizona , said. “If you can imagine looking straight ahead and if randomly someone threw paint splotches across your field of vision and no matter what you did by turning your head, those paint splotches would not move.” Clarida was in the operating room just a week ago.

It took Dr. Michael Depenbusch a few hours to put the tiny microscope in Clarida’s eye. This is not a cure for the disease but it could help patients see better. “They’re seeing around the blind spot more,” Dr. Depenbusch, with Arizona Eye Center, said. “The blind spot is still there in their vision but it made the blind spot smaller so it’s not as perceptible.”

Now a week later, the telescope is visible in Clarida’s eye. He’s already seeing more than he has in a long time. “I know it’s not going to be perfect but it’s a lot better than it was,” Clarida said.

Since this is now an FDA approved procedure, insurance companies will pay for the surgery, but doctors point out, this procedure won’t work for every patient.

The eye does need to be a certain size to actually fit the telescope.

Copyright 2015 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.