A new study has found that people with severe vision impairment as a result of retinitis pigmentosa are able to read letters and words with the aid of a bionic eye implant.
Researchers from 10 centres across the globe, including Moorfields Eye Hospital, asked patients using the Argus II device if they could identify single letters, as well as two, three and four letters. An accuracy rate of 72% was reported for single letter identification when using the device, compared to 17% without the implant.
In addition, participants showed 75% accuracy when reading two letters, and 58% accuracy when reading four. This group were also able to read letters as small as 0.9cm from a reading distance of 30m.
Published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, controlled data proved to researchers that patients would not have been able to complete the tasks when the device was disabled.
Lead researcher and consultant retinal surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, Lyndon Cruz said: “The paper highlights data showing the tremendous potential of the Argus II to restore some meaningful vision in patients that otherwise would have been left blind. The fact that we are seeing many of our patients being able to recognise large letters, locate the position of objects and more, is truly encouraging and beyond initial expectations.”
The retinal implant, which was developed by Second Sight, is the first and only device of its kind to be approved for use.
President and CEO of Second Sight, Robert Greenburg, added: “These results are very exciting and add to the ever increasing data supporting the benefits of the Argus II. To me, it is just as gratifying that the devices and the benefit endure for a long period of time. We have people approaching six years of use with Argus II and over eight years of use with Argus I. The long-term benefit is what differentiated the Argus II from other early research efforts around the world and was a significant factor in gaining FDA approval.”