Welcome!

News Feed Item

USC Eye Institute ophthalmologists implant first FDA-approved Argus II retinal prosthesis in western United States

Keck Medicine of USC patient sees for first time in 30 years only one week after implant

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Lisa Kulik saw fireworks for the first time in nearly 30 years this July 4 holiday, thanks to a groundbreaking retinal implant co-invented by Mark Humayun, M.D., Ph.D., an internationally renowned clinician-researcher at the University of Southern California (USC) Eye Institute.

Kulik is a 55-year-old Peoria, Ariz. resident who has retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disease that progressively robs its victims of sight. On June 2, she became the first person west of the Mississippi to receive the FDA-approved Argus II retinal prosthesis, innovative wireless technology co-invented by Humayun, who is the Cornelius Pings Professor of Biomedical Sciences and professor of ophthalmology, biomedical engineering, cell and neurobiology at Keck Medicine of USC and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

When Kulik wore the Argus II to the July 4 celebration with her husband and niece, she didn't expect to see anything. But when the fireworks went off, so did flashes in her field of vision.

"My husband and niece were more excited than I was," she said. "I was seeing thick and thin flashes, and I knew it was the fireworks. I've also seen the moon, and I can see the contrast between the grass and the sidewalk.

"I'm hoping I will be able to see silhouettes of people, like my grandchildren, and be able to get around by myself. Losing independence has been the hardest part [of being blind] for me. I'd like to be able to take a walk down the street."

Kulik's progress is encouraging to Humayun, who started developing the Argus II more than 20 years ago.

"She could see spots of light on the first day of activation, which is very exciting," said Humayun, who is professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering at USC and co-director of the USC Eye Institute. The USC Eye Institute has ranked as a Top 10 ophthalmology program for 24 years and is No. 3 in research funding from the National Eye Institute. "That put her ahead of our expectations. Most of our patients haven't seen for decades and they have to relearn how to interpret visual signals, which takes quite a while. It's like seeing a baby learn to crawl, then to walk, then to run."

Kulik received the implant during a four-hour surgery at Keck Medicine of USC, performed by Lisa Olmos de Koo, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Keck School, with Humayun assisting. Kulik is now undergoing several months of follow-up testing while she trains her brain to see in a new way. Some Argus II patients can see contrast well enough to sort light and dark clothing, and to see the outlines of doors, bushes, people and other objects.

The Argus II system uses a camera mounted on special glasses that sends a signal to an electronic receiver with 60 electrodes implanted inside the eye. The receiver sends signals to the retina that travel through the optic nerve to the brain, where they can be interpreted as a visual picture. Future applications of the device are aimed at age-related macular degeneration, a similar but more common disease than RP. The prosthesis is manufactured and sold by Second Sight Medical Products in Sylmar, California.

Clinical trials for the Argus II at USC began in 2007, with more than 30 patients implanted with the device as part of the trial. Eligible patients must be over the age of 25, have little or no light perception in both eyes and have had previous sight.

The Argus II is not just a professional goal for Humayun. As a medical school student, he was inspired to study blindness when complications from diabetes stole his grandmother's sight, and nothing could be done to help her.

"As her vision deteriorated, it was sad to see her losing the enjoyment she got through reading and being in her garden," he said. "That experience made me reconsider my path in medicine, and I obtained a Ph.D. in engineering so I could help restore sight to blind people."

Kulik began losing her sight in her late 20s, and by her early 30s, all she could see were shadows in extremely bright conditions. She had to give up her driver's license and quit her job at a veterinary clinic, working with the animals she loved. And she missed seeing her two sons, now 31 and 24, become men.

Her journey toward sight began in 2012, when her husband Ed saw an article on the Internet about the Argus II.  Kulik said Ed's discovery confirmed her continuous optimism that a solution to her blindness would be found.

"When I was diagnosed, I didn't let it stop me," she said. "I knew someone would come up with something."

Innovation is one of the hallmarks of the USC Eye Institute, a leader in National Eye Institute funding and ranked No. 9 in the United States for ophthalmology care by U.S. News & World Report. The Argus II is one of many examples of how the interdisciplinary environment at USC enables the creation of potential miracle solutions to health problems.

"One of USC's strengths is that we have an extraordinarily collaborative environment with world-class expertise in many different areas that can impact our health — including medicine, engineering, pharmacy, interactive media and public policy," said Rohit Varma, M.D., M.P.H., director of the USC Eye Institute and chair, Department of Ophthalmology, Keck School of Medicine of USC. "The Argus II is one of the prime examples of such a collaboration, resulting from a strong relationship with the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. 

"Losing sight is devastating to most people, making them depressed, more dependent on others and reducing their social interactions and productivity, among other things," Varma added. "Now with the Argus II we have the potential to reverse all that and help people begin new, more independent, productive and fuller lives. By bringing sight back to the blind, the Argus II is truly a miracle."

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a genetic disease affecting nearly 100,000 people in the U.S. Those with the disease experience progressive loss of photoreceptors (rods and cones) or the retinal pigment epithelium, a pigmented cell layer that nourishes retinal cells. As the disease progresses, patients experience night blindness, tunnel vision, blurring, and difficulty adjusting from dark to light environments. Eventually their vision is reduced to shadows and most victims are declared legally blind.

Kulik is also participating in a study to determine whether partial restoration of vision has an impact on how the brain processes information. She returns to USC periodically for magnetic imaging resonation (MRI) tests, as well as testing with the Argus II.

ABOUT USC EYE INSTITUTE:
The USC Eye Institute has consistently ranked as a Top 10 ophthalmology program by U.S. News & World Report and Ophthalmology Times and is No. 3 in research funding from the National Eye Institute. Led by Rohit Varma, M.D., M.P.H., the USC Eye Institute has 21 full-time faculty physicians covering all subspecialties of ophthalmology. The USC Eye Institute is headquartered near downtown Los Angeles and has satellite clinics in Pasadena, Beverly Hills and Arcadia. For more information, go to eye.keckmedicine.org.

ABOUT KECK MEDICINE OF USC
Keck Medicine of USC is the University of Southern California's medical enterprise, one of only two university-based medical systems in the Los Angeles area. Encompassing academic, research and clinical excellence, the medical system attracts internationally renowned experts who teach and practice at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the region's first medical school; includes the renowned USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the first comprehensive cancer centers established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States; has a medical faculty practice, the USC Care Medical Group; operates the Keck Medical Center of USC, which includes two acute care hospitals: 401-licensed bed Keck Hospital of USC and 60-licensed bed USC Norris Cancer Hospital; and owns USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, a 158-licensed bed community hospital. It also includes more than 40 outpatient facilities, some at affiliated hospitals, in Los Angeles, Orange, Kern, Tulare and Ventura counties. For more information, go to www.keckmedicine.org/beyond

Video available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFUwJZ2aL6I

B-roll available on request

University of Southern California logo.

SOURCE Keck Medicine of USC

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of Soli...
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
"Qosmos has launched L7Viewer, a network traffic analysis tool, so it analyzes all the traffic between the virtual machine and the data center and the virtual machine and the external world," stated Sebastien Synold, Product Line Manager at Qosmos, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service. In his session at 19th Cloud Exp...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
"We are a leader in the market space called network visibility solutions - it enables monitoring tools and Big Data analysis to access the data and be able to see the performance," explained Shay Morag, VP of Sales and Marketing at Niagara Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...