The first implanted device for adults with retinitis pigmentosa has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Called the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, the device includes a tiny video camera, a transmitter (on a pair of glasses), and a video processing unit. The patient’s retina is replaced with a prosthesis. The camera wirelessly transmits visual information to the retinal prosthesis to improve vision.
A rare genetic eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa or pigmentosis causes damage to the light-sensitive cells on the retina. Normally, these cells convert light into electrical impulses and transmit them to the brain via the optic nerve. Patients with retinitis pigmentosa gradually lose peripheral vision and night vision. Eventually, central vision is also lost. Symptoms start in the 1st or 2nd decade of life and can slowly lead to blindness.
The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis is a “last resort” treatment for patients who have completely lost their vision. While full vision is not restored, it can help adults with advanced retinitis pigmentosa perceive shapes, detect light and dark, and track movement. This can lead to more independence and better quality of life.
Thirty patients who received the retinal prothesis were studied for at least two years. They were better able to do basic activities such as detecting the direction of a moving object, recognizing large letters, walking on a sidewalk, touching a shape, and matching gray, white and black socks. Approximately a third of the participants had side-effects such as inflammation, low intraocular pressure, splitting and erosion of the conjunctiva. More than $100 million in grant money funded this research.
At Natural Eye Care, we believe that no matter your DNA, you can attempt to maintain and improve vision through a life-long program of good nutrition, targeted supplementation, exercise and eye exercises. Significant research supports the value of a healthy lifestyle and supplementation in retaining and restoring eye health, and slowing or delaying the progress of eye disease. For patients with retinitis pigmentosa, please see our recommendations for photoreceptor support. In some patients, daily use of Microcurrent Stimulation has been helpful.