Second Sight Medical Products' Argus II retinal prosthesis has become available in the Netherlands. Dr Marco Mura, vitreo-retinal surgeon at Oogziekenhuis Zonnestraal and AMC, Amsterdam, implanted two patients blinded by retinitis pigmentosa with an Argus II retinal prosthesis, becoming the first patients in the Netherlands to be implanted with the technology.
In Argus II, a mini camera mounted on sunglasses captures the scene. The images are first processed by a video processing unit, this data is then transmitted wirelessly to the implant that stimulates the remaining healthy cells of the retina, inducing pattern of lights that the brain interprets as shapes and movements. This technique allows blind people who suffer from the hereditary condition to distinguish light and contours again. Clinical results have demonstrated that Argus II is reliable over the long-term and provides benefit to implanted patients followed up to five years. In daily life activities, profoundly blind Argus II users improved in their ability to conduct visual tasks and complement to other assistive means used by the blind. The treatment has been commercially available in a number of hospitals in Germany, Italy, the UK, France, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and the US.
Six of the first 60 patients were implanted with a first-generation Argus I system, that was attached to an electronic implant inserted invasively in the skull behind the ear with a wire connecting to the eye under the skin. The last 55 patients have received the second-generation Argus II system, which is much less invasive and is implanted only in and around the eye. Second Sight gained CE mark for the Argus II system in 2011, the first and only approval of a retinal prosthesis anywhere in the world. In February 2013, the FDA approved Argus II.