The visual cortical prosthesis system provided some functional vision to blind patients in a 12-month assessment of the device.
This article was reviewed by Nader Pouratian, MD, PhD
The early results of a feasibility study of a visual cortical prosthesis system (Orion, Second Sight Medical Products) indicate that the product has significant potential to provide some functional vision to previously sighted patients with no light perception with a good safety profile.
“The goal of this study was to develop a visual cortical prosthetic device that stimulates the visual cortex directly by bypassing the eyes and the optic apparatus in blind patients,” said Nader Pouratian, MD, PhD. “This approach was designed to leverage the available and approved retinal prosthetic technology.”
Dr. Pouratian is professor and vice chairman of Academic Affairs, Department of Neurosurgery, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles.
The device uses glasses, a camera implanted into the glasses, and an adapted video processing unit that converts the video input into a stimulation pattern. An electrode array is implanted over the medial occipital lobe over the V1 and V2 areas, and facilitates communication through wireless radiofrequency communication and power.
This phase I interim feasibility study, which is the first test performed in humans to evaluate this device, evaluated the safety of placing and activating an electrode array on the medial surface of the occipital lobe in blind patients, the functionality of the device in providing some artificial vision, its utility in these patients, as well as the nature of the vision provided.
The investigators also wanted to obtain user input in order to iterate the design of the device and software and proceed with the next study phase, according to Dr. Pouratian.