Argus II is approved for use in certain patients with severe to profound retinitis pigmentosa, and it is currently being investigated in patients with age-related macular degeneration. However, Argus II and other retinal prostheses require the presence of some functioning retinal neurons and a relatively intact optic nerve.
“An estimated 6 million people who are blind, including people affected by glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, or optic nerve damage caused by trauma or infection, cannot be helped by a retinal prosthesis,” Dr. Greenberg said.
“The Orion I applies the concepts and techniques developed at Second Sight for our retinal prosthesis while providing the downstream stimulation needed for achieving vision in patients who have more proximal damage in the visual system,” he said. “More than 40 years ago, Brindley and Dobelle were working to develop a visual cortical prosthesis, but they were unable to create a practical device because they did not have access to the robust wireless technology that we have today.”
Orion I is similar in many respects to the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System. Like Argus II, Orion I uses a two-dimensional 60-electrode array and a videocamera fit onto glasses to receive visual input that is converted to a stimulation pattern by an externally-worn video processor.
The processor transmits the data and power wirelessly to an implanted generator and the electrode array.
However, Orion I incorporates physical modifications to the array and the changes to software for its computer chip to account for differences between the retinal and brain neural interfaces.