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Nystagmus treated with magnetic implant.

A condition that causes involuntary eye movements in close to one in 400 people has been treated using magnets implanted behind a patient's eyes.

The case study, published in Ophthalmology, is the first known use of an implant to control eye movement.

Researchers at University College London and the University of Oxford developed a set of magnetic implants to treat nystagmus in a patient who developed the condition in his late 40s.

The treatment involved implanting magnets in the orbital floor of each eye socket, and stitching another magnet to the extraocular muscles that control eye movement.

The magnets are able to control the involuntary eye movements that characterise nystagmus without being overly restrictive because the force of the flickering movements is weaker than voluntary eye movements.

Lead author Dr Parashkev Nachev explained to OT that the impact on day-today life of nystagmus could be as disruptive as conditions like macular degeneration.

"One of the things that is often neglected with nystagmus is how profoundly disturbing the effect on visual function is," he added.

The magnetic prostheses were implanted in two separate sessions by Professor Geoff Rose and David Verity at Moorfields Eye Hospital.

The magnets were encased in titanium--a material that has been used in patients for decades and has no adverse reactions with tissue. Researchers are now recruiting patients for a larger clinical trial.

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Title Annotation:Research
Publication:Optometry Today
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 1, 2017
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