Second Sight, Kellogg Eye Center finding early success with artificial retina

May 9, 2014

Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. and the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center experienced recent success with an artificial retina, which is gaining national attention and giving patients back their sight.

Ann Arbor, MI-Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. and the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center experienced recent success with an artificial retina, which is gaining national attention and giving patients back their sight.

“We are pleased with the patients’ progress at this point, and we are hopeful and optimistic that the artificial retina will enable them to see objects, light, and people standing before them,” says Thiran Jayasundera, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the UM Medical School. “We believe the device will help them navigate a little better at home, be more independent, and have the pleasure of seeing things that the rest of us take for granted.”

The Kellog Eye Center has implanted artificial retinas into a 4 patients since the surgery received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval last year. Now, patients like Roger Pontz, who lost nearly all vision years ago due to retinitis pigmentosa, are regaining some visual function thanks to the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System developed by Second Sight. Pontz’s story was recently highlighted by the Associated Press.

Roger Pontz using his Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System (Photo courtesy of University of Michigan Kellog Eye Center)

 

Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System (Photo courtesy of Second Sight)The system is designed to bypass damaged photoreceptors in the retina. It works by capturing video images using a camera housed in the patient’s glasses and converting that image into a series of electrical pulses. Those electrical pulses are transmitted wirelessly onto electrodes on the implant, which is placed on the surface of the retina, stimulating the retina’s remaining cells. The brain receives corresponding patterns of light, which the patient can then learn to interpret. 

According to Brian Mech, vice president of business development for Second Sight, the device won’t benefit all those with retinitis pigmentosa, but about 7,500 Americans with severe cases, experiencing bare light to no light perception in both eyes, are considered candidates.

Last year, Second Sight said other centers around the country-including Atlanta; Baltimore; Chicago; Cleveland; Dallas; Durham, NC; Los Angeles; Miami; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia; and San Francisco-would begin accepting consultations with patients with retinitis pigmentosa.