It was performed at the San Giovanni Addolorata Hospital in Rome on a 91-year-old patient
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The first artificial retinal implants in Italy were performed at the San Giovanni Addolorata Hospital in Rome. The operation, performed by the head of vitreoretinal surgery UOSD Marco Pileri, is part of the international PRIMAvera project. The surgery was performed on a 91-year-old patient with end-stage atrophic maculopathy, which usually affects the elderly.
The microchip FIRST
The international clinical trial, which has been conducted for Italy by the Consortium between the University of Tor Vergata and the British Presidium, will then be repeated in five other patients selected by the Italian team. “Our expectation is to restore the ability to read letters, numbers, words and even small sentences. A total of 38 patients will initially receive the implant in several European countries,” said Andrea Cusumano, scientific director of the project for Ansa . With the number destined to grow, two more interventions are expected soon. “Preliminary results of the study are expected by the end of the year, 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 be even less than two.” hours, the rehabilitation of the patients will then begin within a few weeks,” continued Cusumano. As for the operation, the microchip that is implanted, PRIMA, has small dimensions, is wireless and is implanted with minimally invasive surgery under local anesthesia.
A difficult disease
Recognized as one of the most serious diseases that can affect the eye, macular degeneration is age-related and affects a growing number of older people, the data highlight. The ‘macula’, the central sky of the retina, essential for seeing details, recognizing faces, colors, reading and driving, is gradually damaged by the disease. This, which mainly affects the over-65s, is the leading cause of legal blindness and visual impairment in the Western world. With about one million patients affected in Italy, about 850 thousand have the incurable atrophic (dry) form and about 150 thousand the exudative (wet) form, the course of which can be delayed with intravitreal injections. About 200-300 thousand patients are in the advanced stage of this disease. “In fact, the number of maculopathies is vastly underestimated, by at least 25-30 percent. Because many patients do not yet know that they are affected,” Cusumano stressed. For retinitis pigmentosa, another hereditary disease, another implant was placed at the Gemelli Outpatient Clinic last year, involving another retinal prosthesis, the NR600 artificial retina.