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UK Government announces funding for Second Sight’s Argus II bionic eye

Second Sight Medical Products announced that following a positive recommendation from advisors to the UK Government’s healthcare funding authority for specialized services in England that, for the first time in the UK, the publicly-funded NHS system will fund blind patients with RP to receive treatment with the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System (Argus II) “bionic eye”.

NHS England has announced that a selective group of severely blind patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa can have access to Argus II, the world’s first and only routinely used treatment for severe blindness.

There will be two implantation centers: the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital in the north of England, and in the south, London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital. The hospitals and Second Sight will also provide follow up, rehabilitation and support to patients receiving an Argus II implant.

Argus II will be funded via the Commissioning through Evaluation (CtE) program. The CtE program is especially designed for treatments that show significant promise for the future, while new clinical and patient experience data are collected within a formal evaluation program.

Argus II is already reimbursed under a similar “coverage with evidence development” program in France called “Forfait Innovation” where patients have benefitted from the Argus II treatment.

Will McGuire, President and CEO of Second Sight, said, “This is a major milestone for Second Sight because we are the only company able to demonstrate a favorable long-term benefit-to-risk statement up to five years after implantation for some RP patients.”

Professor Paulo Stanga from Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, University of Manchester and Manchester Vision Regeneration (MVR) Lab at NIHR/Wellcome Trust Manchester Clinical Research Facility, who has played a crucial role bringing the ‘bionic eye’ to patients at the NHS, said, “I’m delighted that our pioneering research has provided the evidence to support NHS England’s decision to fund the ‘bionic eye’ for the first time.”

Second Sight continues its groundbreaking work with the aim to restore vision to patients with every type of untreatable blindness. Its UK research on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) continues. In 2015, the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital in England fitted several AMD patients with implants.

This illness is more complex than RP. In the US, Second Sight is working with UCLA, recently performing the successful implantation and activation of a wireless visual cortical stimulator in a human subject.

Second Sight's Argus II System provides electrical stimulation that bypasses the defunct retinal cells and stimulates remaining viable cells inducing visual perception in individuals with severe to profound retinitis pigmentosa.

 The Argus II works by converting images captured by a miniature video camera mounted on the patient's glasses into a series of small electrical pulses, which are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes implanted on the surface of the retina.

These pulses are intended to stimulate the retina's remaining cells, resulting in the perception of patterns of light in the brain. The patient then learns to interpret these visual patterns, thereby regaining some visual function.

The Argus II is the first artificial retina to receive widespread approval. It is offered at approved centers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the US.

The CtE program is especially designed for treatments that show significant promise for the future, while new clinical and patient experience data are collected within a formal evaluation program.

Argus II is already reimbursed under a similar “coverage with evidence development” program in France called “Forfait Innovation” where patients have benefitted from the Argus II treatment.

Will McGuire, President and CEO of Second Sight, said, “This is a major milestone for Second Sight because we are the only company able to demonstrate a favorable long-term benefit-to-risk statement up to five years after implantation for some RP patients.”

Professor Paulo Stanga from Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, University of Manchester and Manchester Vision Regeneration (MVR) Lab at NIHR/Wellcome Trust Manchester Clinical Research Facility, who has played a crucial role bringing the ‘bionic eye’ to patients at the NHS, said, “I’m delighted that our pioneering research has provided the evidence to support NHS England’s decision to fund the ‘bionic eye’ for the first time.”

Second Sight continues its groundbreaking work with the aim to restore vision to patients with every type of untreatable blindness. Its UK research on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) continues. In 2015, the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital in England fitted several AMD patients with implants.

This illness is more complex than RP. In the US, Second Sight is working with UCLA, recently performing the successful implantation and activation of a wireless visual cortical stimulator in a human subject.

Second Sight's Argus II System provides electrical stimulation that bypasses the defunct retinal cells and stimulates remaining viable cells inducing visual perception in individuals with severe to profound retinitis pigmentosa.