On 15 April 2008, as part of an international Phase I clinical study, surgeons at Moorfields carried out two successful operations to implant an artificial electronic retinal device into the eyes of two blind patients. This is the first time that such devices have been implanted in Britain.
The aim of this trial is to restore a basic level of useful vision, in the form of spots of light and shapes of light and dark, to people suffering severe blindness due to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a group of inherited eye diseases that affects the retina.
The Argus II™ technology consists of a tiny camera and transmitter mounted in a pair of glasses. This camera transmits a wireless signal via a small processing device to an ultra thin electronic receiver, and electrode panel that is implanted in the eye and attached to the retina.
The electrodes stimulate the remaining retinal nerves allowing a signal to be passed along the optic nerve to the brain. The brain perceives patterns of light and dark spots corresponding to which electrodes are stimulated.
The operations were carried out by Mr Lyndon da Cruz and his team from the Vitreo Retinal department at Moorfields, under the supervision of American colleagues who developed the device with Second Sight in the US, and who pioneered the Argus II implantation procedure.
Mr da Cruz, a consultant retinal surgeon, said: “Moorfields is proud to have been one of only three sites in Europe chosen to be part of evolving this exciting new technology. The devices were implanted successfully in both patients and they are recovering well from the operations.
“It is very special to be part of a programme developing a totally new type of treatment for patients who would otherwise have no chance of visual improvement.”
More facts about the clinical trial can be found here
Opened in 1805, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is one of the world’s leading centres for ophthalmic treatment and teaching. With our research partner, the Institute of Ophthalmology, we are embarking on an exciting programme of research in order to find cures for currently untreatable diseases. It is the oldest and largest specialist eye hospital in the world.
Moorfields became one of the UK’s first NHS foundation trusts in 2004, and in 2007, opened a specialist children’s centre, The Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre.
The entire range of eye diseases is treated at Moorfields, from cataract, corneal and retinal conditions to much more complex and rare diseases.
Our eminent reputation means that patients come to us not only from all over the UK, but from around the world.
In 2007, the National Institute for Health Research funded Moorfields and partner, the UCL Institute for Ophthalmology, to set up one of only 12 specialist Biomedical Research Centres (BMRC) in the UK, and the only one dedicated to Ophthalmology.
About Second Sight
Second Sight is a company located near Los Angeles in California, founded in 1998 to create a retinal prosthesis to provide sight to patients blinded from outer retinal degenerations, such as Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Through dedication and innovation, Second Sight’s mission is to develop, manufacture and market implantable visual prosthetics to enable blind individuals to achieve greater independence.
“We are pleased that Second Sight, along with Moorfields Eye Hospital, was able to initiate this clinical trial in Britain,” said Robert Greenberg, MD, PhD, President and CEO of Second Sight, and a leader in the field of retinal prostheses for more than 15 years.
The company has received extensive U.S. governmental support in developing this new technology and is grateful for the forward thinking of the National Institutes of Health/National Eye Institute and the Office of Science at the Department of Energy in supporting significant aspects of this work.
Source: Moorsfield Eye Hospital Press Release, April 21, 2008