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Sight saved by telescope size of a pea
A READING surgeon is the first in country to carry out a revolutionary treatment for the most common cause of blindness in Britain.
By implanting a telescope smaller than a pea into the eye, Ahmed El-Amir, ophthalmic and retinal surgeon at Spire Dunedin Hospital, was able to help a woman in her 70s reverse the effects of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Around 250,000 people suffer from AMD in the UK, which is when retinal damage causes a central blind spot in a patient's vision, making it almost impossible to recognise faces, read or watch television because they can only see out of the corner of their eye.
But the tiny telescope magnifies images from the patient's central vision and directs it onto a healthy part of the retina making it possible for them to see again.
Mr El-Amir carried out the first operation in March and he said the pensioner's vision has already improved dramatically.
He added: "Losing your central vision is an absolutely devastating blow for patients who are often deeply frightened by the prospect of only being able to use the corner of their eyes to see.
"I am very pleased to be able to offer Spire patients in the Berkshire and the home counties this revolutionary treatment which has brought fresh hope to many people."
He stressed that the treatment is only available to patients over 55, who are not responding to regular injections, and who must first show an improvement with an external telescope to ensure they would benefit from the implant.
The treatment is being offered through the CentraSight programme, run by Californian company Visioncare Ophthalmic Technologies, and has been submitted to the National Institute For Health And Care Excellence (NICE) to be assessed for potential inclusion on the NHS, although each operation costs at least £15,000.
Mr El-Amir said two more patients were already being cleared for the procedure and added: "I think we will eventually see it approved for the NHS because if Medicare, the US equivalent of the health service, cannot find anything wrong with it, then the next step is for the NHS to introduce it."
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