Retina Implant AG, which is developing subretinal implants for patients blinded by retinitis pigmentosa, said a new study published in Vision Research shows positive results in patients treated with its Alpha IMS subretinal microchip.
More than 86% of patients implanted with the device experienced improved ability to detect light and identify specific light sources, the study showed. More than 50% of the 29 blind patients reported restoration of “useful visual experiences in daily life, including the recognition of shapes and household objects, improved ability to identify facial features” and some ability to read letters, the Reutlingen, Germany-based company said.
“The publication of this data is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of some of the world’s leading retinal specialists collaborating to provide life-changing technology to those in need. The impact of RP is profound for patients, and with no treatment options available until recently, diagnosing patients with the disease has been extremely difficult. For years, the ophthalmology community has strived to develop a treatment or technology that offers a solution to help RP patients regain some useful vision. It is incredibly gratifying to have reached this point,” study lead author Dr. Katarina Stingl of the University of Tuebingen, Germany, said in a prepared statement.
The restored vision was described as “rudimentary” in the study, but potentially useful in previously blind patients. Nearly 50% could recognize object shapes, and almost 66% could localize high-contrast objects. The study added a caveat, stating that “it cannot be predicted at present, which patients after implantation may have very useful object perception in daily life and which patients may have only improved light perception and how long the restoration of very-low-vision abilities will be maintained.”
“Retina Implant’s mission is to provide all late-stage RP patients with a safe, effective device to restore some of the vision they have lost. Through the establishment of new clinical partners across Europe, securing reimbursement in those countries as well as launching a clinical trial in the U.S., we are executing on our mission to increase access to our technology worldwide,” CEO Walter-G Wrobel said in a press release.
Retina Implant AG won CE Mark approval in the European Union for the device in 2013, and won reimbursement from Germany’s government health system for the device in 2014.