Like any new medical device, patient tests are crucial to make sure the bionic eye technology we are developing is safe and effective.
We have begun patient tests of an early prototype bionic eye device with 24 electrodes. These tests involve three people with retinitis pigmentosa who were implanted with the devices in 2012. These patients are participating in tests in Melbourne to help researchers learn about how the brain interprets stimulation of the implant.
We are planning to undertake further patient tests with future prototypes in the coming years. Further patient testing depends on additional funding (to be confirmed in late 2013).
Participating in tests of the Wide-View prototype
In our next round of patient tests (subject to funding) we will be testing a full Wide-View bionic eye prototype. To participate in these tests we are specifically seeking people who:
- have retinitis pigmentosa
- have very little or no remaining vision (can only see light and dark, and are not able to see any objects or shapes)
- currently live close to Melbourne, Australia
- are able to commit to close monitoring and regular clinical assessments, training sessions and hospital visits over a number of years
- have the time and patience to commit to scientific research.
We have not yet begun recruiting for these tests but you can register your interest in participating by contacting our clinical research team.
Other ways of assisting our clinical team
We are also interested in learning more about retinitis pigmentosa from people who are living with the condition. Our clinicians are evaluating people with profound vision loss due to retinal disease to learn more about the health of residual retinal tissue and to help determine which patients would be suitable for the first tests of the Wide-View prototype.
If you would like to register your interest in helping us learn more about retinitis pigmentosa you can contact our clinical research team.
If you are unsure of the cause of your low vision, please speak to your ophthalmologist, doctor or optometrist.
Why retinitis pigmentosa?
The devices we are developing will not be suitable for everyone experiencing vision impairment. Our bionic eye technology relies on a person having a functional optic nerve and a developed visual cortex – patients need to have been able to see in the past for these devices to be of benefit to them.
Because of these requirements we are initially seeking people with degenerative retinal conditions to participate in tests. In the first instance we are seeking people with retinitis pigmentosa. In the future, researchers hope to test the technology with people who have age-related macular degeneration.
Support agencies for blindness and low vision
The bionic vision technology we are developing is only one option for people with vision impairment. The Monash Vision Group is developing a different bionic eye technology that will target other conditions including glaucoma and optic nerve dystrophy.
Further, many Australian organisations can assist with visual aids, occupational therapy, counselling, advocacy and orientation and mobility training for people with low vision.
- Vision Australia is a leading provider of support services for blindness and low vision and now incorporates Seeing Eye Dogs Australia.
- Guide Dogs Australia is another leading provider of orientation and mobility services, as well as being responsible for the training and assignment of guide dogs.
- Retina Australia provides information and support opportunities to people and families affected by retinitis pigmentosa and other retinal dystrophies.
- Blind Citizens Australia is a support and advocacy group for people who are blind and vision impaired.