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New Devices Help Visually Impaired See

For Floridians with the most advanced form of macular degeneration, a mini telescope implant could dramatically help their vision, but it’s only available at one hospital in the state.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital, which was a test site for the device, performed the first implantation of the device earlier this month, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports. A neuro-ophthalmologist who was involved in the clinical trials implanted the device in an 81-year-old patient. Now, other doctors are looking to that patient to study the one-hour outpatient procedure, which could help millions of other people with vision problems, according to the Herald-Tribune. The total cost is around $19,000, most of which is covered by Medicare.

(see video of the procedure)

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a separate device designed to give limited vision to people who are blind, the New York Times reports. The integrated system includes an “artificial retina” that works with a camera that captures video and then sends that information to the brain so the patient can see outlines of shapes and shades of light and dark.  While there’s a lot of excitement about the new device, MedCity News takes a closer look at the hype.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.