Discover the answers to the questions most frequently asked about Argus® II.
The Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis is a medical device that is surgically implanted into only one eye and delivers electrical stimulation to the retina. It is intended to produce a useful form of artificial vision to blind people with severe to profound RP by stimulating remaining viable retinal cells to induce visual perception.
The Argus® II System works by converting images captured by a miniature video camera mounted on glasses into a series of small pulses of energy, which are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes implanted on the surface of the retina. These pulses stimulate the retina’s remaining cells, enabling perception of patterns of light in the brain. Through help of vision rehabilitation professionals, the user learns to interpret these visual patterns to regain some visual function.
Importantly, each and every Argus user is unique and different. The level of benefit each user receives depends on several factors. The Argus II will not restore your natural vision. It does however provide users with a form of artificial vision that enables them to experience light perception, contrast sensitivity, and for many increased visual information that enables them to rediscover a level of independence they did not have before.
With the Argus II System, many users have been able to gain more independence as they are able to orient themselves and navigate in unfamiliar environments. Argus II users typically report an increase in their orientation and mobility skills. Our patients verbally share with us that they have been able to:
- Identify paved walkways,
- Detect where the sidewalk ends
- Perceive doorway entrances and windows,
- Use porch lights for orientation
- Tell if someone is in front of them
Aside from more independent navigation, many users have reported an improvement in their social life. When using the Argus II System, you can typically perceive the shape of the people and their movement when they walk into a room or take a seat in front of you. You can also scan a room to identify obstacles, scan the table top for your place settings at a restaurant or see a furry friend approaching your lap. Typically, Argus II users share with us they can:
- Differentiate between low and high contrast objects and edges
- Sort laundry/socks
- Independently navigate less familiar environments
- Notice doorways, street curbs and buildings
- Detect their dinner plate, the moon at night, fireworks, Christmas tree lights
- Know when someone has left the table or room
- Feel more comfortable in social settings now that they know if someone walked away or changed position so they’re not talking into empty space
- Participate in hobbies they thought they couldn’t, like throwing darts, or bowling.
As reported by some of our users, Argus II gives a renewed sense of confidence, they felt they’d lost
You will still need to use your primary mobility aids with this device. (human guide, long cane or guide dog)
The Argus® II system is the only FDA approved retinal prosthesis and is intended for use in blind individuals who meet the following criteria:
- Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP)
- Adults, age 25 years or older
- Visual acuity in the worse affected eye of bare light perception or worse
- Previous history of useful form vision
The Argus II is intended to be implanted in a single eye, typically the worse-seeing eye.
Additionally, individuals who are considering the Argus II, must be willing and able to participate in the recommended post-implant clinical follow-up, device fitting, and visual rehabilitation.
Your doctor will ultimately determine if Argus® II is right for you.
The World Health Organization uses the following classifications of visual impairment. When the vision in the better eye with best possible glasses correction is:
- 20/30 to 20/60 : is considered mild vision loss, or near-normal vision
- 20/70 to 20/160 : is considered moderate visual impairment, or moderate low vision
- 20/200 to 20/400 : is considered severe visual impairment, or severe low vision
- 20/500 to 20/1,000 : is considered profound visual impairment, or profound low vision
- More than 20/1,000 : is considered near-total visual impairment, or near total blindness
- No light perception : is considered total visual impairment, or total blindness
The Argus II prosthesis is implanted via surgical procedure. The surgery is very safe, and usually lasts a few (~3) hours. The first part of the surgery involves placing a silicone band called a “scleral buckle” around the outside of the eye (the sclera, or the white of the eye) to hold the implant in place. The second part of the surgery is when a small silicone tab (about the size of a lady bug) called the Array, is inserted inside the eye and is attached to the back of the retina. Once the implant is secured to the eye, the surgery is complete.
Once healing is complete the implant is not visible to others and you will not be able to feel it. After four weeks of healing, you will return to the doctor to have your system turned on and specifically programmed to work with your unique visual system.
After your system is uniquely programmed to your need, your support doesn’t end there, one of our certified vision rehabilitation specialists will meet with you in your home to identify goals and a plan to achieve them using your new Argus II artificial vision system. This training usually occurs over a couple days initially with follow up visits as necessary to ensure your goals with the Argus II device are achieved.
In addition to this specialized rehabilitation, you will continue to have follow up care with the doctor who performed your surgery to monitor your eye health at a schedule set between you and your Argus II surgeon.
The Argus® II system is presently reimbursed through a majority of Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) and Medicare Advantage Plans operating in the geographic areas where coverage exists. Also many private insurance companies pay for Argus II on a case-by-case basis. Depending on your specific insurance plan, the total cost of the Argus II implant surgery might be fully or partially covered.
To obtain an accurate estimated cost for your Argus II surgery, a physician must first run tests to make sure the Argus II is right for you. Once you are considered a good candidate for the Argus II, our Insurance Specialists will work with your insurance provider to calculate the best coverage with no obligation to move forward.
To date, Argus II has been implanted in over 350 patients worldwide across more than 25 exclusive regional centers. These include some of America’s most prestigious and highly regarding academic institutions including:
ARGUS – NORTH AMERICAN SURGICAL CENTERS: ACTIVE SINCE 2017
- Cleveland Clinic, Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland, OH
- University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
- University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
- Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
- University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
- Stony Brook University, East Setauket, NY
- Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, PA
- University of Rochester, Flaum Eye Institute, Rochester, NY
- Tufts University, Boston, MA
- Memorial Hermann, Texas Medical Center, Houston, TX
- University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
- Duke Eye Center, Durham, NC
- Emory University, Atlanta, GA
- University of Miami, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Miami, FL
- Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
- University of Colorado, Denver, CO
- Kellogg Eye Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
- University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
- Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, Montreal, Québec (Canada)
- North Mississippi Medical Center, Tupelo, MS
New centers are continually added to provide complete support of North America.