Letting the Good Times Roll in Retina

American Academy of Ophthalmology 2013

Carl D. Regillo, MD; Allen C. Ho, MD; Sunir J. Garg, MD


December 04, 2013

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

In This Article

Unmet Needs in Retinal Disease

Dr. Regillo: We have covered all the big diseases, but we still have lots of unmet needs for other diseases that are severe and vision-threatening. What about retinal degenerations?

Dr. Ho: It's very exciting for patients with retinal degeneration. The Argus® II study[11] showed that the Argus II vision system -- the epiretinal chip implant -- has been reasonably well tolerated and shows probable benefit for patients with severe vision loss.

For example, patients with little to no light perception in retinitis pigmentosa now have an FDA-approved, commercially available device that may allow them to see a door and connect to the visual world a little bit more. Our patient was able to take her laundry, look at a piece of clothing, and sort out whether it was a white piece of clothing or a colored item.

Dr. Regillo: It is exciting. It's FDA-approved. It's technically commercially available now. What are the obstacles? Can we use it right now?

Dr. Ho: We can use it now. In fact, the first commercial implant will probably occur before the end of 2013. Insurance coverage is evolving. That's one of the barriers, along with surgeon training.

Dr. Regillo: It's not your average vitreoretinal procedure.

Dr. Ho: There are about 10 centers across the country that will be doing this.

Dr. Regillo: We are doing some exciting work at Wills with other types of retinal prostheses. This is just the beginning of a whole area that is going to open up within the next decade.

Dr. Garg: One of the most exciting things about this implant is that many different centers worldwide are working on these implants. To have one FDA-approved will encourage the other centers to work even harder to get their implants to market. That competition will help this technology blossom.