The Argus II restores some visual capabilities for patients whose blindness is caused by RP, or Retinitis Pigmentosa. RP is an inherited retinal degenerative disease that affects about 100,000 people in the U.S.
The system uses a camera mounted on special glasses that sends a signal to an electronic receiver with 60 electrodes that is implanted inside the eye. The receiver sends signals to the retina that travel through the optic nerve to the brain where they can be interpreted as a visual picture. The researchers hope that one day the device can be improved to also help individuals with age-related macular degeneration, a similar but far more common disease.
“We’re excited and thrilled to have this positive outcome from the FDA panel and we will be happy to see this device eventually get to patients for whom there has been no treatment until now,” said Dr. Humayun, who is also the associate director of research at the Doheny Retina Institute at USC.
The Argus II was approved for use in Europe last year. It was implanted in 30 patients in a clinical trial that began in 2007. Dr. Humayun has performed many of the surgeries to implant the device.
Dr. Humayun is temporarily out of the country but will be available to correspond by email. On Wednesday, he will return to his office and will be available for telephone interviews. Reporters may contact him via Robert Perkins at email@example.com or (213) 740-9226.
NOTE: The Argus II is manufactured by they Sylmar-based company Second Sight. Funding for the development of the device came from the National Eye Institute, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation and private investment. More information about the device is available on the Second Sight website here.
CONTACT: Robert Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org or (213) 740-9226.