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Archive for the Prosthetics Category

The OrCam Device: Giving Back Functionality

Woman wearing the orcamHere, at Eye on the Cure, we’ve recently written quite a bit about retinal prosthetic devices, or “bionic retinas,” whether FDA-approved or works-in-progress. But there’s another new device for the visually impaired, a form of assistive technology, that’s neither disease-specific nor requires an implant. And it’s already on the market, at a relatively low price. It’s called OrCam.
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Patient Registries Help Advance Research for Rare Diseases

Image of Keyboard and StethiscopeRare disease research is challenging, because patient information about the conditions is inherently limited. Patient recruitment for clinical trials can be especially difficult, because so few people are affected.

To address these issues, a number of foundations, patient advocacy groups and governmental institutions have launched online registries to collect patient information for use by researchers, doctors and public health experts.
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The Argus II is Approved. What’s Next for Bionic Retinas?

A Retinal Implant developed by Retina Implant AGAs the Foundation reported back in February, the Argus II retinal prosthesis, developed by Second Sight Medical Products, received marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

For those of us on the front lines of fighting blindness — whether we’re raising funds, conducting  research or stand to personally benefit from the results — the device’s approval is one of the most exciting milestones in vision restoration ever achieved.
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Proving a Vision-Saving Treatment Works

Dr. Hendrik Scholl conducts an electroretinogram, or ERG, with a patient at the Wilmer Eye Institute.I am very excited about ProgSTAR, the Foundation’s new study monitoring and documenting the progress of vision loss and retinal changes in people with Stargardt disease. On the surface, the study might not sound very exciting, because it isn’t evaluating a potential cure. However, the information gleaned from ProgSTAR will be of enormous value in designing future clinical trials for Stargardt disease treatments.
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Staying Alive: Saving Retinal Cells to Preserve Vision

Woman Receives Eye dropsResearchers are developing a number of promising treatment approaches for blinding retinal diseases, which include: correcting genetic defects; replacing lost retinal cells with new ones; and implanting electronic chips, like the recently FDA-approved Argus II. But, sometimes, saving vision simply comes down to keeping retinal cells alive, or at least slowing their degeneration. Known as “neuroprotection,” this approach isn’t just for the retina — it has the potential to preserve and protect all kinds of neural cells, including brain tissue and cells of the central nervous system.
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Moving Vision-Saving Treatments Out to the People Who Need Them

A lab technician“Translational research” is the mantra for many of the retinal scientists funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness. In a nutshell, the phrase refers to the advancement of vision-saving therapies from laboratories into clinical trials and out to the people who need them.
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History in the Making

Argus II Fundus ImageWhen it comes to restoring vision in people with retinal diseases, history isn’t made overnight. Treatments and technological advances have to, first, be tested in labs, and then in clinical, or human, trials. And how quickly they move through the process depends on how readily they’re funded, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. So, making a treatment or device available to the general public takes years, if not decades. Which is why we, at FFB, are so excited about last week’s announcement that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted market approval of the Argus II retinal prosthesis.
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How an FDA-Approved Retinal Prosthesis Came To Be

Image of the Argus II ImplantThe Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System was recently granted market approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which marks a significant milestone in the development of a therapy that has spanned more than 20 years. It was at Johns Hopkins University, in the early 1990s, that I, along with Drs. de Juan, Humayun and Dagnelie, with some early support from FFB, carried out the very first short-term (one hour or so) experiments with human volunteers. We demonstrated that electrical stimulation of the retina could, indeed, produce spots of light perceived by blind patients.

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Orphan Drugs Get Special Treatment

Image of lab equipmentYou wouldn’t think that being called an “orphan” is a good thing. But for developers of treatments for rare diseases — including inherited retinal conditions — “orphan” status provides valuable benefits, such as tax incentives, access to special research grants and assistance with clinical trial design. The orphan designation also gives seven years of market exclusivity to the developer of a treatment.

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Top 12 Research Advancements of 2012

Image of lab beakerAt the Foundation Fighting Blindness, we are always looking forward. Our scientists are continually focused on achieving the next sight-saving breakthrough, and our donors and volunteers are always looking for new opportunities to raise more money to drive the research.

But for a moment, as we put the wraps on 2012, it is very inspiring to look back on the past year and reflect on the many exciting advancements that have been made in our quest for treatments and cures.
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