Electronic retinal implant surgery.
Blindness due to outer retinal degeneration still remains largely untreatable. Photoreceptor loss removes light sensitivity, but the remaining inner retinal layers, the optic nerve, and indeed the physical structure of the eye itself may be unaffected by the degenerative processes. This provides the opportunity to restore some degree of vision with an electronic device in the subretinal space. In this lecture I will provide an overview of our experiences with the first-generation retinal implant Alpha IMS, developed by Retina Implant AG and based on the technology developed by Eberhart Zrenner as part of a multicentre clinical trial (NCT01024803). We are currently in the process of running a second NIHR-funded clinical trial to assess the next-generation device. The positive results from both studies to date indicate that the retinal implant should be included as a potential treatment for patients who are completely blind from retinitis pigmentosa. Evolution of the technology in future may provide further opportunities for earlier intervention or for other diseases.