SEATTLE – October 28, 2013 – Dr. Thomas Gillette, cornea surgeon at Swedish Medical Center and Eye Associates Northwest, P.C. in Seattle, Wash. successfully implanted a tiny telescope into the eye of an end-stage macular degeneration (AMD) patient. The patient, 76-year-old Charles DePoe, had his surgery in October 2012 at Swedish. DePoe is a resident of Kennewick, Wash. and is the first and only in the state to have received the telescope implant. DePoe, who had lost nearly all of his central vision, set a goal with his surgeon, Dr. Gillette, for the implant. He wished to gain enough of his central vision back to once again recognize his wife’s face and read the newspaper.
“We know the impact the telescope technology can have on a patient’s life. We are excited to finally be able to offer this technology on a broader basis and to be one of the first provider teams in the Pacific Northwest to help patients improve their vision and achieve a greater quality of life,” says Dr. Gillette. “More than 15 million Americans are affected by some form of AMD, and it is the leading cause of blindness in older Americans.”
Swedish is currently the only hospital in Washington implanting the mini telescope for end-stage AMD. Supporting members of the CentraSight Patient Treatment Program provider team in Washington include: retina specialist Dr. Michael Nguyen with Eye Associates Northwest, P.C.; low-vision optometrist Dr. Marianne Hinck Welling with Sight Connection; and low-vision occupational therapists Allyson Kessary with Rehabilitation Services and Theresa Dean with Swedish.
The first-of-its-kind telescope implant is integral to CentraSight®, a new patient care program for treating patients with end-stage, age-related macular degeneration, the most advanced form of AMD and the leading cause of blindness in older Americans. The FDA approved implant is the only surgical option that improves visual acuity by reducing the impact of the central vision blind spot caused by end-stage AMD. The cost for the telescope implant and visits associated with the treatment program are Medicare eligible.
Smaller than a pea, the telescope implant uses micro-optical technology to magnify images which would normally be seen in one’s “straight ahead” or central vision. The images are projected onto the healthy portion of the retina not affected by the disease, making it possible for patients to see or discern the central vision object of interest.
Patients with end-stage AMD suffer from a central blind spot. This vision loss makes it difficult or impossible to see faces, read, and perform everyday activities such as watching TV, preparing meals and performing self-care. The telescope implant has been demonstrated in clinical trials to improve quality of life by improving patients’ vision so they can see the things that are important to them, increase their independence and re-engage in everyday activities. It also may help patients in social settings as it may allow them to recognize faces and see the facial expressions of family and friends.
The CentraSight treatment program is generally coordinated by retina specialists who treat macular degeneration and other back-of-the-eye disorders. The treatment program focuses on comprehensive patient care, requiring prospective patients to undergo medical, visual and functional evaluation to determine if they may be a good candidate. A unique aspect of the evaluation is the ability to simulate, prior to surgery, what a person may expect to see once the telescope is implanted to determine if the possible improvement will meet the patient’s expectations. Post-implantation, the patient will learn how to use their new vision in everyday activities by working with a low-vision therapy specialist
In Charles Depoe’s case, he visited Swedish for his annual follow-up appointment on October 28, 2013. DePoe is again able to read the newspaper, and he is excited to report that he revels in the ability to once again recognize his wife’s face.
As with any medical intervention, potential risks and complications exist with the telescope implant. Possible side effects include decreased vision or vision impairing corneal swelling. The risks and benefits associated with the telescope implant are discussed in the Patient Information Booklet available at www.CentraSight.com.
Patients and physicians can find more information about the telescope implant and related treatment program at www.CentraSight.com or by calling 1-877-99SIGHT.
CentraSight is the first-ever telescope implant for end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most advanced form of AMD and the leading cause of blindness in older Americans. Patients with end-stage AMD have a central blind spot or missing area in their vision that makes it difficult or impossible to see faces, read, and perform everyday activities.
The CentraSight Treatment Program allows patients to see again by implanting a tiny telescope in the eye in an outpatient procedure, then coordinating with vision specialists to help the patient learn how to use their new vision for everyday activities.
Swedish has grown over the last 103 years to become the largest non-profit health provider in the Greater Seattle area. It is comprised of five hospital campuses (First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds and Issaquah); ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek; and Swedish Medical Group, a network of more than 100 primary care and specialty clinics located throughout the Greater Puget Sound area. In addition to general medical and surgical care including robotic-assisted surgery, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. In 2012, Swedish provided more than $130 million in community benefit in Western Washington. For more information, visit www.swedish.org, www.swedishcares.org, www.facebook.com/swedishmedicalcenter, or www.twitter.com/swedish.