Woman With Retinitis Pigmentosa Obtains Rudimentary Vision With Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System From Second Sight

March 22, 2009

We previously reported on a British man with retinitis pigmentosa who is gaining rudimentary vision with the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System from Second Sight.

Today, the Columbus Dispatch told the story of a California woman, Kathy Blake, with retinitis pigmentosa who has gained vision with the same device.  Among other things, she can sort dark and white laundry on her carpet.  Other patients implanted with the device have been able to read 1-foot-tall letters on a wall, navigate an unfamiliar room, follow a line on a floor, and recognize objects in a place-setting on a table.

The Columbus Dispatch article provides a nice summary of how the Argus II works:

The Argus II system has 60 electrodes, which provide more detail, and works like this:

A tiny video camera mounted in a pair of glasses takes pictures of what’s in front of a patient and transmits each image to a processor worn on the hip.

The processor turns the image into a pattern of electronic impulses that are sent to an antenna on the side of the glasses. The impulses are directed to a receiver implanted on the side of the eye. The receiver relays these impulses to the electrodes in the retina.

The impulses travel along the retinal neurons through the optic nerve and to the brain. The patient sees flashes of light, which the brain uses to make the equivalent of low-resolution images.

An illustration of the above process is also provided.

The Argus II has 16 electrodes, while Argus III is expected to have 200, and Argus IV, more than 1,000. The hope is that additional electrodes will allow patients to recognize faces and read text of a fairly reasonable size.

Read the full article.




Jump down to form below to submit your own comments

10 Responses to “Woman With Retinitis Pigmentosa Obtains Rudimentary Vision With Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System From Second Sight”

  • Rachel

    Dr. Weitzner,

    My mother has Ushers Syndrome (RP combined with deafness). She has extremely limited tunnel vision that continues to deteriorate by the day. The vision that she does have is good but again, is slipping away. She is 68 years old. Would she be a candidate for the Argus II?

    Thank you.

  • ari

    it should- the implant basically bypasses the rods and cones and goes to the optic nerve

  • Marianne Hemer

    could this eventually help with someone who has acromatopsia? Meaning no cone function and limited distance vision?

  • ari

    i am not shooting from the hip. what i meant is that getting truly “useful vision” is many decades away. the vision one gets now with this implant is utterly rudimentary- basically seeing the outline of shapes- and of course, is better than nothing, and i agree one should look into it if available. again- if one is totally blind, like the guy in the video i saw in the link, then yes- seeing the outline of shapes is wonderful, and it may be worth it.

  • JimS

    Doctor Weitzner – I take issue with your comment. The Second Sight implant is not Star Wars and will not take decades. It is happening NOW and people are seeing using this device. Granted, the vision is not like a normal person. But for someone who is blind, even the level of vision described is phenomenal.

    You ought to read the case studies of some patients already implanted with the device as part of the trials before shooting from the hip:


    The device was already approved in Europe, so the authorities there apparently deem it safe and effective. I am not surprised it is still undergoing trials in the United States, which typically lags Europe in approving innovative therapeutic technologies.

    In sum, I would not discourage anyone for seeking to obtain an implant. The company may nor may not accept them, but worth a shot.

    So, Mr. Hernandez, if you do a little due diligence and feel you might qualify, I encourage you to contact the company (but you’d probably have to travel to Europe for any evaluation and certainly for the implant).

    Note: I have no connection at all to Second Sight – just keep track of medical technology breakthroughs to see if they can help anyone I know.

  • ari

    this is at the very, very early stage. it cannot possibly help you. this kind of technology is truly “star wars”-kind. it will take decades and technological leaps to perfect

  • Alvaro Hernandez

    Hello, I suffered a detached retina in my left eye in an accident 15 years ago. I am 75 years. I wonder if my case could be treated with this system. Thank you.

  • ari

    this is an investigative procedure. the vision it gives is extremely limited. i have no idea if there is any cost. you will have to contact the company.

  • s.p.bansal

    Retinitis Pigmentosa being hereditory,three persons(2females aged 60&50yearsand one male 61years old)are suffering from the disease in one generation(brothers&sister).
    Are these implants helpful to them. If so,What would be cost of therapy for each and where it is possible.