Second Sight Medical Products announced that Health Canada has approved the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System to treat individuals with severe to profound outer retinal degeneration, according to a company news release. The Argus II, implanted in more than 100 individuals worldwide, is the only retinal prosthesis approved by Health Canada and the FDA, and the first approved retinal prosthesis in the world.
The system induces visual perception in blind individuals by providing electrical pulses to stimulate the retina’s remaining cells, resulting in a perception of light patterns in the brain. The Argus II has the potential to offer life changing visual capabilities to those with little or no remaining functional vision. The Argus II implant can positively impact a blind person’s ability to conduct routine daily activities, such as recognizing shapes or large objects, locating people, identifying the location of doorways, and following lines or edges. Ultimately, this is meant to allow Argus II users to live their daily lives with more confidence.
“This is one of the most exciting medical developments I have witnessed in my career,” Robert Devenyi, MD, FACS, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief, Donald K. Johnson Eye Centre and Director, Retinal Services, at the University Health Network, said in the news release. “The Argus II offers so much hope and possibility for patients with degenerative eye disease. I am delighted to be part of the first team in Canada that can provide this technology to patients.” Dr. Devenyi implanted the Argus II in the first Canadian patient on June 5, 2014, at Toronto Western Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, as part of an investigator-sponsored study.
“This regulatory approval and the first implants of the Argus II in Canada are tremendous milestones, not only for Second Sight, but also for those affected by outer retinal degenerations in Canada,” Robert Greenberg, MD, PhD, president and CEO of Second Sight, said in the news release. “Leveraging more than 20 years of research and development, supported by strong intellectual property, and coming on the heels of our approval in the US, today’s approval enables us to expand our international network of Centers of Excellence, which offer the Argus II retinal implant, into additional Canadian provinces beyond Ontario.”
Second Sight is currently recruiting additional centers in major metropolitan areas and plans to apply for reimbursement in the provinces where they are established.