JAN 03, 2017
The English branch of the National Health Service (NHS) has announced coverage approval for Second Sight’s Argus II Retinal Prosthesis system for patients with severe visual impairment from retinitis pigmentosa (RP).
The coverage decision follows recommendation from physicians at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Manchester Royal Eye Hospital who have evaluated the benefits of the device for more than 5 years. The two hospitals will serve as implantation centers, providing follow-up, rehabilitation and support for patients receiving the Argus II implant.
"For patients with RP who have profound vision loss, the long-term benefits of the Argus II in restoring some useful vision may be life-changing,” said Professor Lyndon da Cruz, MD, PhD, a consultant retinal surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital who pushed for coverage of the system. “Perhaps most exciting is the potential ability of the Argus II to increase patients' functional vision. With the Argus II, some patients can perform tasks that would not be possible without the device. Our work at Moorfields has shown that these changes last for many years after implantation for some patients and represent a stable, effective treatment for them. This funding underlines the Government's ambition to position the UK as a global leader in medical innovation."
Funding for the Argus II will come from the Commissioning through Evaluation (CtE) program, which is designed to facilitate pioneering treatments while collecting patient experience and clinical data for future development.
The Argus II works by converting images captured by a miniature video camera mounted on the patient's glasses into a series of small electrical pulses, which are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes implanted on the retina. These pulses stimulate remaining photoreceptor cells to induce perception of light patterns in the brain. The patient then learns to interpret these visual patterns, thereby regaining some visual function. The Argus II is also offered at approved centers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and the US.