Retinitis pigmentosa is a pathologic condition that is hereditary and causes progressive retinal degeneration in both eyes. It is a general term for a number of diseases that predominantly affect the photoreceptor layer or "light sensing" cells of the retina. Night blindness develops, usually in childhood, followed by loss of peripheral visual field, progressing over many years to tunnel vision and finally blindness.
At Emory Eye Center retina specialists Thomas M. Aaberg, Sr. and Jiong Yan performed the surgery recently on five patients. Another two patients are planned for mid-February.
"This experimental device may make it possible for those with retinitis pigmentosa to have a much better quality of life," says Dr. Aaberg. "We are excited to be able to participate in this clinical trial as part of Emory Eye Center's ongoing research and surgical procedures to fight blinding eye disease. Because Emory and the Atlanta VA Rehabilitation R&D Center met the FDA and Optobionics criteria that included surgical expertise, a strong research component and an established patient base of degenerative retinal diseases, we were able to be a part of this important study."
Pre- and post-surgery patients are evaluated by a team of researchers working at the Eye Center and the VA Rehabilitation R&D Center including Ronald A. Schu chard, PhD and Claire Barnes, PhD.
"This clinical trial will help evaluate the potential of Optobionics' ASR® device to provide improved functional vision or to at least slow down the progressive vision loss" says Dr. Schuchard, principal investigator for the project. "There are very few vision rehabilitative options for patients with retinal degenerative diseases, so the opportunity to be part of evaluating an experimental rehabilitative intervention for these patients is very exciting."