RI Forum 2018: International retinal experts discuss retinal implants
(Reutlingen / Vienna) – On the fringe of this year’s EURETINA congress that took place in Vienna from 20 to 23 September 2018, retinal experts from all over Europe met for the second international RI-Forum. More than 20 specialists followed the invitation of Retina Implant AG and discussed the topic:
Addressing the Unmet Medical Need of Retinitis pigmentosa (RP): teaming up to pave the way for today`s available methods
The medical challenge of treating the hereditary retinal disease RP is huge and in many cases it leads to blindness. A therapy that heals all forms of this disease is not in sight, despite great efforts and initial success with gene therapy approaches. „It continues to require the combined effort of science, medicine and industry to improve the situation for many RP patients,“ explained Dr. Alfred Stett, Chief Technology Officer of Retina Implant AG that hosted the expert panel. „Our electronic implant is already available to people who are blind from RP – regardless of the genetic cause of retinal disease.“
The Reutlingen-based Retina Implant AG has developed a retinal implant that can partially restore vision in people who have no or only bare light perception due to various forms of degenerative retinal diseases such as RP. Reimbursement is already available in Germany and France. „The subretinal implant is absolutely resilient in terms of function and safety. And it’s available,“ said Professor Florian Gekeler, Medical Director at the Katharinenhospital Stuttgart in Germany.
Professor Robert MacLaren, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Oxford UK, is convinced by the implant: „The electronic retinal implant has both light sensitivity and retinal stimulation built into it – hence when placed under the retina it truly replaces the role of photoreceptors, which are the light sensitive cells lost in patients who become blind from retinitis pigmentosa.“
The fact that there are still some challenges to overcome is accepted among all specialists in the group. „We observe that the visual perceptions generated by the implant are steadily improving with regular vision training. This has led us to develop a rehabilitation and training concept that allows patients to progressively train the use of the implant and certain visual abilities,“ explains Dr. Stett.
In addition to questions about rehabilitation, technology and surgery, the clinical experts also discussed in depth the selection of suitable patients. „Some of the most experienced international retinopathy experts have joined this RI-Forum because exchanges and collaboration need to be stepped-up to jointly overcome all barriers to existing therapies – from both patients‘ and physicians‘ perspectives,“ Prof. Gekeler summed up the evening.
About Retina Implant AG
Retina Implant AG researches and develops innovative treatments and high-tech products for people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The subretinal RETINA IMPLANT Alpha AMS can help blind patients regain a certain degree of useful sight. The CE-approved microchip is implanted beneath the retina (subretinally) at specialist RI implantation centres.
Transcorneal electrical stimulation (TES treatment) with the RI OkuStim® system offers RP patients with sufficient residual vision the opportunity to slow down the progression of the disease.
The company, based in Reutlingen, employs around 45 people and is managed by Reinhard Rubow (CEO and speaker of the Management Board), Jürgen Klein (Member of the Board, Sales & Marketing) and Dr. Alfred Stett (CTO, Member of the Board).