Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. a developer, manufacturer and marketer of implantable visual prosthetics to provide some useful vision to blind patients affected by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), has announced, following a positive recommendation from advisors to the UK Government’s healthcare funding authority for specialised services in England that, for the first time in the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) will fund blind patients with RP to receive treatment with the Argus II® Retinal Prosthesis System (Argus II) “
NHS England has announced that a selective group of severely vision impaired patients with RP can have access to Argus II. There will be two implantation centres: 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) programme which is designed for treatments that show significant promise for the future, while new clinical and patient experience data are collected within a formal evaluation programme. 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.
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. I have seen first-hand how beneficial and life changing this technology has been to RP patients who are completely blind. We live in a visual world, so it is reassuring and life affirming for a person who is completely blind to regain some basic vision. This is a wonderful decision. For patients’ families, it is also a life-enhancing treatment, because it can mean less dependence for their loved ones.”
Professor Lyndon da Cruz, MD, PhD, Consultant Retinal Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who, with Prof. Stanga, has been championing NHS funding of the treatment for more than five years, said: “For patients with RP who have profound vision loss, the long-term benefits of the Argus II in restoring some useful vision may be life-changing. Perhaps most exciting is the potential ability of the Argus II to increase patients’ functional vision. With the Argus II, some patients can performtasks that would not be possible without the device”.
This development is welcomed by Retina International.