French retinal implant maker Pixium Vision today announced the 1st implantation and successful activation of its Iris II epi-retinal implant designed for patients with vision loss as a result of retinitis pigmentosa.
The Iris system is comprised of a retinal implant and a pair of camera-mounted glasses connected to a “pocket computer.” The computer processes images captured by the glasses and transmits the data into a signal that’s transferred back and projected onto the intraocular implant, where it stimulates the optic nerve and generates images that the brain learns to interpret as visual signals.
“The 1st implant and activation of Iris II, with its innovative features, is an exciting and major advance in the field of bionic vision development, interfacing the eye and the brain. Pixium Vision is dedicated to conceive, develop and bring meaningful bionic vision innovations to surgeons, enabling them to treat patients who have lost sight,” CEO Khalid Ishaque said in a press release.
The 1st implant took place in January and was performed by Michel Weber of France’s University Hospital of Nantes, the company said.
“This 1st implant was successfully completed for the 58 year old retinitis pigmentosa patient. With the implant design and its smart retinal fixation, the procedure is close to the surgical techniques familiar to the retinal surgeons. After many years in darkness, the patient was activated and reported first perception of light. Per clinical protocol, the patient will now enter training to learn how to interpret the light signals,” Weber said in prepared remarks.
Up to 10 patients are slated to be included in a clinical trial of the device, according to Pixium Vision. The company said it filed for CE Mark in the European Union last year, and is hopeful for commercial availability in mid-2016.
“The new Iris II implant represents a major step forward for patients with retinitis pigmentosa: the intervention is relatively quick thanks to the design of the implant and it is now equipped with 150 electrodes, close to three time more than currently available. Epi-retinal approach is currently the less invasive and most optimal solution to allow retinitis pigmentosa patients to emerge from darkness,” Dr Yannick Le Mer of Paris’ Fondation Ophtalmologique Rothschild said in a prepared statement.