Assessment of the Electronic Retinal Implant Alpha AMS in Restoring Vision to Blind Patients with End-Stage Retinitis Pigmentosa

Ophthalmology. 2018 Mar;125(3):432-443. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2017.09.019. Epub 2017 Oct 27.


Purpose: To report the initial efficacy results of the Retina Implant Alpha AMS (Retina Implant AG, Reutlingen, Germany) for partial restoration of vision in end-stage retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

Design: Prospective, single-arm, investigator-sponsored interventional clinical trial. Within-participant control comprising residual vision with the retinal implant switched ON versus OFF in the implanted eye.

Participants: The Retina Implant Alpha AMS was implanted into the worse-seeing eye of 6 participants with end-stage RP and no useful perception of light vision. Eligibility criteria included previous normal vision for ≥12 years and no significant ocular or systemic comorbidity.

Methods: Vision assessments were scheduled at 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months postimplantation. They comprised tabletop object recognition tasks, a self-assessment mobility questionnaire, and screen-based tests including Basic Light and Motion (BaLM), grating acuity, and greyscale contrast discrimination. A full-field stimulus test (FST) was also performed.

Main outcome measures: Improvement in activities of daily living, recognition tasks, and assessments of light perception with the implant ON compared with OFF.

Results: All 6 participants underwent successful implantation. Light perception and temporal resolution with the implant ON were achieved in all participants. Light localization was achieved with the implant ON in all but 1 participant (P4) in whom the chip was not functioning optimally because of a combination of iatrogenic intraoperative implant damage and incorrect implantation. Implant ON correct grating detections (which were at chance level with implant OFF) were recorded in the other 5 participants, ranging from 0.1 to 3.33 cycles/degree on 1 occasion. The ability to locate high-contrast tabletop objects not seen with the implant OFF was partially restored with the implant ON in all but 1 participant (P4). There were 2 incidents of conjunctival erosion and 1 inferotemporal macula-on retinal detachment, which were successfully repaired, and 2 incidents of inadvertent damage to the implant during surgery (P3 and P4).

Conclusions: The Alpha AMS subretinal implant improved visual performance in 5 of 6 participants and has exhibited ongoing function for up to 24 months. Although implantation surgery remains challenging, new developments such as OCT microscope guidance added refinements to the surgical technique.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Retina / pathology
  • Retina / surgery*
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / diagnosis
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / physiopathology
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / surgery*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Prosthesis*