The RETINA IMPLANT Alpha AMS is a subretinal implant for adults who have become blind due to a retinal degeneration, such as retinitis pigmentosa.
In degenerative retinal diseases of this kind, the photoreceptors, i.e. the cones and rods, perish in the retina. The rest of the visual system remains functional. The implant can help people blind from retinitis pigmentosa with no more than light perception by partially restoring functional vision.
Another requirement is that the visual system, including the parts of the brain that process and transform the visual stimuli, have fully developed. It is therefore necessary that those affected have had sufficient vision (e.g. reading ability) before their blindness.
Whether the RETINA IMPLANT Alpha AMS is suitable for you must be clarified by an experienced ophthalmologist at an RI implantation center.
Despite the diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa, the implant RETINA IMPLANT Alpha AMS does not benefit everyone. The necessary initial examination therefore takes place in one of our RI implantation centers. It is here where the suitability of the implant for you can be verified. This will include various examinations such as the examinations of the fundus (funduscopy) and the retinal layering (OCT).
You will also have the opportunity to speak with one of our Patient Care Managers. They can inform you about the functionality of the implant, the handling as well as aftercare and training. Together we will discuss your expectations and prepare the subsequent training individually for you.
Note: Retina Implant AG does not offer a diagnosis.
Vision results with the subretinal implant differ from your previous, normal vision.
Nevertheless, the implant is perceived as a significant improvement by many users. In a scientific study, 86% of users reported being able to better recognize light and objects. 72% of users observed improvements in activities of daily living.1
The visual results can be described as follows:
- The implant can (theoretically, on the basis of calculations) allow a maximum visual acuity of 0.07 (20/280). The best visual acuity achieved so far within a study is 0.037 (20/546) and was attained by few people. Even with an implant, visual acuity will be severely limited.
- Even with an implant, the visual field will be limited. The implant can provide a visual field of about 13 degrees. This corresponds approximately to an area the size of a CD at arm's length.
- The implant can display the brightness of the objects looked at with different shades of gray. Color vision is not possible.
- Depending on the stimulation frequency, a shimmering / flickering perception may occur.
- The implant is only placed in one eye. Spatial vision is not possible, yet eye-hand coordination should benefit from the implant-mediated vision.
The results after the implantation of the chip can vary strongly and are dependent on individual factors. Reasons are usually the individual condition of the retina. Active training after implantation also plays an important role in achieving the best possible result.
 Stingl K. et al., Subretinal Visual Implant Alpha IMS – Clinical trial interim report. Vision Research, 2015
The RETINA IMPLANT Alpha AMS works without an external camera. The implant is positioned in the eye, in the area of the temple and behind the ear. For activation, the user has to wear a so-called transponder. This is a little bigger than a 2 Euro coin, gray and flat. The transponder is magnetically placed behind the ear. The implant is controlled and supplied with energy by a handset which is connected to the transponder by cable.
In many cases, normal prescription glasses are helpful after implantation for an optimal visual acuity.
In order to achieve optimal coordination, the surgeon would have to place the photosensitive chips in both eyes at the exactly matching points of the retina. Surgically this is currently not possible.
The eye has to heal after the operation and the body has to recover from the procedure. The first switch-on takes place approx. 4 weeks after the implantation.
Yes. It can indeed be assumed that the first visual impressions occur at the first switch-on. Nonetheless, in the retina and brain, learning processes are required to process and interpret the impressions of implant vision. For this reason, we have developed a training concept that accompanies our implant users individually on their way and also takes into account their requirements and ideas.
In Germany, treatment with the RETINA IMPLANT Alpha AMS is generally covered by the statutory health insurance funds as part of the NUB procedure (new examination and treatment methods). The respective eye clinic has to submit a cost transfer application for each patient (whether legally or privately insured).
More information can be found here.
Outside Germany and France, there is no uniform regulation concerning reimbursement. The implant must be available as a treatment option in the respective country of residence either from health insurance companies or the national health systems of the EU countries. We are currently working in several EU countries to obtain reimbursement.
In principle, even if you are not insured in Germany, it is possible to receive our implant at one of our German centers. This could mean you will have to cover the costs yourself. You can apply at your insurance provider to cover the costs of an implantation in Germany. We will gladly support you as far as possible.
Details are available upon request.