First telescopic eye implant approved by the FDA

Summary:We are now one step closer to becoming cyborgs. The FDA approved the first telescopic eye implant to help restore vision in those suffering from end stage macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration usually strikes when you are older. It's an eye disorder that damages the center of the retina, so it makes those suffering from the disease unable to consume media and diminishes their ability to recognize faces. It's also one of the leading causes of blindness.

The FDA gave the green light to a telescope eye implant, which could be used to restore the central vision in the 500,000 people suffering from end-stage macular degeneration.

It works like a telescope.

Kathryn Colby, MD, of Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary said to ABC:

"It has two wide-angle, high-power lenses. They are just very, very small."

Only one eye gets a telescope. The other eye is still good for seeing peripheral vision. Clay Dillow wrote in PopSci, explaining that the implanted telescope uses the functioning retina cells to create a donut-like image.

The image produced won't give the user 20/20 vision, but at least some of the person's vision is restored. And the improvement isn't as immediate as sticking a contact in, there's a rehab process.

Not everyone suffering from macular degeneration can use this FDA approved procedure. To qualify, you need to be over 75 years old, need a cataract taken out and suffer from major vision loss.

The curse of having my DNA tested by consumer testing companies was discovering that my risk of developing macular degeneration was off the charts. I talked about my concerns during a Big Think panel discussion:

There was really no "cure" — although, I could reduce my chances of developing the condition by wearing sunglasses and eating spinach.

Photo: VisionCare via PopSci

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech,, and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado... Full Bio

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