First three months show significant promise
September 28, 2009... Lighthouse International, a non-profit leader in vision health care, is studying the efficacy of a new retinal prosthesis. The only long term study of this kind of prosthesis currently being conducted in the world is showing promising results.
On June 26, 2009, Barbara Campbell was the first patient in New York City to be implanted with the device by a team led by collaborating ophthalmic surgeon Dr. Lucian V. Del Priore at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. The prosthesis is being developed and commercialized by Second Sight Medical Products of Sylmar, CA. The prosthesis, which translates images from a spectacle-mounted miniature camera to direct electrical stimulation of the retina, is designed to treat blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa (RP). RP is an inherited disease that causes degeneration of photoreceptor cells in the retina and progressive vision loss.
Aries Arditi, Ph.D., Senior Fellow in Vision Science at the Arlene R. Gordon Research Institute of Lighthouse International, is the site principal investigator and for the past 3 months has been training Ms. Campbell on the use of the device. Dr. Arditi is also conducting psychophysical tests with and without the device in order to assess its impact on the patient's functional vision. In the three months since implantation, she has made significant progress.
According to Dr. Arditi, "While we still have a long way to go, and the process is slow; the findings so far have been extremely positive. With the prosthesis, Barbara is now able to detect light, as well as some objects and their motion. In the future, making the most of the rudimentary vision the prosthesis gives her, we hope she will be able to more easily navigate both indoors and on the street and visually perform other important activities of daily living."
According to Ms. Campbell, who has had Retinitis Pigmentosa since the age of 13 followed by gradual vision loss, "It is very exciting to be a part of this innovative project. For the first time in 15 years, I can see the welcoming light from the doorway of my building. It is an indescribable and amazing feeling! As I become more proficient and get more visual cues, I believe I will gain new skills, a greater sense of independence and self confidence. I feel like I am stepping into the future."
"We are very pleased to be a part of this groundbreaking and exciting research and to be working with such outstanding partners. Our collective work could have a profound effect on the estimated 400,000 Americans with Retinitis Pigmentosa and other retinal diseases," states Mark G. Ackermann, President and CEO of Lighthouse International.
New York is one of seven sites in the United States approved by the Food and Drug Administration to participate in this investigational device clinical trial where patients are being implanted and then studied to see how effectively they can use the prosthesis.
About the Arlene R. Gordon Research Institute at Lighthouse International
The Arlene R. Gordon Research Institute is dedicated to developing and objectively evaluating translational applications of scientific knowledge to technologic interventions and rehabilitation training programs. This work has as its goal improvement of visual function in people with vision loss or blindness. Consisting of a multidisciplinary team, the Research Institute is the only one of its kind housed within a vision rehabilitation agency.
About Lighthouse International
Founded in 1905, Lighthouse International is a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting vision loss through prevention, treatment and empowerment. It achieves this through clinical and rehabilitation services, education, research and advocacy. For more information about vision loss and its causes, contact Lighthouse International at 1-800-829-0500 or visit www.lighthouse.org.