AUG 25, 2014
The French Ministry of Health has agreed to pay for the first wave of Argus II “bionic eye” treatment for 36 patients with severe to total sight loss due to retinitis pigmentosa.
The Ministry of Health earlier this year added the Argus II device to the Forfait Innovation scheme, which introduces breakthrough therapies to benefit patients across France.
Approved in Europe and the United States, the system has been implanted in more than 90 patients, several of whom have been using the system for more than seven years.
The Argus II device is intended for patients aged 25 and older with severe to profound retinitis pigmentosa, bare or no light perception, evidence of intact inner layer retina function, and a history of ability to see forms.
The system includes an external video camera, video processing unit and transmitter mounted on a pair of eyeglasses, along with electrodes implanted internally onto the patient's retina. The video processor wirelessly transmits images captured from the camera as a series of electrical pulses to the electrodes, stimulating retinal cells to produce images.
While vision is not restored, patients can learn to interpret the pulses to regain some visual function, such as detecting light and dark or seeing movement.