Artificial retina, the first implant in Italy for maculopathy – Health & Wellness

First implant in Italy of an artificial retina – the PRIMA microchip – on a 91-year-old patient suffering from end-stage atrophic maculopathy, affecting more and more seniors. Lasted about two hours, the operation, which took place at the San Giovanni Addolorata Hospital in Rome, was performed by the head of vitreoretinal surgery UOSD Marco Pileri, as part of the international PRIMAvera project. “Our expectation is to restore the possibility of reading letters, numbers, words and even small phrases”, Andrea Cusumano, Scientific Director of the project for Italy, told ANSA. Two more interventions are expected soon.

In particular, the international clinical trial PRIMAvera (conducted for Italy by the Consortium between the University of Tor Vergata and the British Presidium) will enroll at least 5 patients in Italy, Cusumano reports, “while a total of 38 patients will initially receive the plant in various European countries “. But the numbers are destined to grow.

“The preliminary results of the study are expected by the end of the year – says Cusumano – while the overall evaluation of the study will take 3 years”. “We plan to operate on the next two patients within 10 days and that the operation will also last less than two hours – anticipates Cusumano – the rehabilitation of patients will then begin within a few weeks”. The microchip object of the intervention is tiny (less than a third of a hair), wireless, and is implanted with a minimally invasive surgery under local anesthesia. Age-related macular degeneration is one of the most serious diseases affecting the eye and affects a growing number of the elderly. In the disease, the central area of ​​the retina (‘macula’) crucial for the vision of details, for recognizing faces, colors, reading and driving, is progressively damaged. The disease is the leading cause of legal blindness and low vision in the Western world and mainly affects over-65s. Officially in Italy there are about one million patients suffering from age-related macular degeneration. Among these, about 850,000 with the incurable atrophic (dry) form, and about 150,000 suffering from the exudative (wet) form, whose course can be curbed with intravitreal injections. “In reality – underlines Cusumano – the numbers of maculopathy are by far underestimated by at least 25-30 percent. Because many patients do not yet know they are affected”. There are also about 200,000-300,000 patients in an advanced stage of the disease (geographic atrophy). Less than a year ago at the Gemelli Polyclinic another implant was performed but it involved a different retinal prosthesis, the NR600 artificial retina, for another retinal disease, of hereditary origin, retinitis pigmentosa.