Successful Bionic Eye Trial Reported

Bionic Vision Australia, a consortium of researchers working together to develop bionic eye devices to restore a sense of vision to people with profound vision loss, tells us it will be presenting data from a clinical trial of a prototype bionic eye device at the The Eye and the Chip World Congress on Artificial Vision taking place in Dearborn, Michigan, September 28-30.


The addressable market for the bionic eye includes subjects with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) or age-related macular degeneration (AMD) who have no remaining vision, or residual vision which is far worse than 20/200 (legal blindness). Worldwide, an estimated 1.5 million people have RP. The number of people who are legally blind due to RP is estimated to be 25,000 in the USA, 42,000 in Europe and 375,000 worldwide.

The financial cost of profound vision loss has been estimated at upwards of $2.5 billion annually in Australia alone. Worldwide, between 20 and 25 million people suffer from vision loss due to AMD and of these about 2 million have vision that is considered legally blind or worse.

Bionic Vision Australia is a national consortium of researchers working together to develop bionic eye devices to restore a sense of vision to people with profound vision loss due to retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. The consortium includes researchers from the Bionics Institute, the Centre for Eye Research Australia, National ICT Australia, the University of Melbourne and the University of New South Wales with additional project partners including The National Vision Research Institute, the University of Western Sydney and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. 

Results of the study were presented by Lauren Ayton, B. Optom, PhD, GCOT, FACO, Bionic Eye Clinical Research Coordinator at the Centre for Eye Research Australia. 

The two year prototype 24-Channel Percutaneous Connector Study, which started in May 2012, involved three RP patients with profound vision loss, each of whom received suprachoroidal electrode implants to aid the restoration of vision. Surgery was completed without any adverse events. During the two year study the implants were reported as being remarkably stable, with no significant movement, and were shown to be safe, with no unexpected device-related serious adverse events observed. Beyond its proof of concept safety aims, the trial also generated efficacy data showing that the device improved patients’ ability to see light and shapes, and helped navigation around obstacles and detection of items on a tabletop search task.

The company has three other programs underway. The first of these, a 44-Channel device will enter the clinic in mid 2015, following which 98 channel and high acuity devices are in the offing.


Company comments

“This study is critically important to the continuation of our research efforts and the results exceede all out expectations,” said Professor Mark Hargreaves, Chair of the BVA board.

“We have demonstrated clearly that our suprachoroidal implants are safe to insert surgically and cause no adverse events once in place. Significantly we have also been able to observe that our device prototype was able to evoke meaningful visual percpetion in patients with profound visual loss.”

Source: Bionic Vision Australia

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