Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
May 02, 2019
2 min read

Virtual reality-like rehab system helps patients use Argus II

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A computer-assisted rehabilitation environment was shown to be a feasible system for training patients to incorporate the Argus II, according to a study reported here at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology meeting.

Meghan J. DeBenedictis, MS, LGC, MEd, the coordinator for the Argus program at Cole Eye Institute, told attendees that the device “provides a form of artificial vision that takes patients time to understand and incorporate into their daily lives. Patients must be rehabilitated.”

The Argus II retinal prosthesis (Second Sight Medical Products) is FDA approved for patients with end-stage retinitis pigmentosa.

Cole Eye Institute is one of three locations in the U.S. with a computer-assisted rehabilitation environment (CAREN) by Motekforce Link.

DeBenedictis and her colleagues undertook a single-site pilot study to use the CAREN system to enhance the rehabilitation process for recipients of the Argus II.

Patients who use the Argus “have to learn to interpret phosphenes, how to scan with the camera, learn head positioning to capture different parts of images and how to track using the camera,” she said. She noted that the device is intended to be used as an adjunct to other methods of mobility.

Few low vision rehabilitation or orientation mobility specialists are familiar with this technology, DeBenedictis said. “There’s no standard rehabilitation approach for Argus,” she said. “And success is patient-dependent.”

She described the CAREN as a multisensory system similar to virtual reality.

In the study, four Argus II patients had eight interventional rehabilitation sessions, twice a week for 4 weeks, using the CAREN system after a baseline assessment.

The hour-long visits involved ultra-low vision skills, dual tasking and balance activities, DeBenedictis said. Interventional tasks included size discrimination, contrast discrimination and counting. Outcomes looked at functional outcomes, mobility, balance and patient subjective report, as well as visual function tests proprietary to Second Sight.

“All patients improved with use,” DeBenedictis said. “One patient went from not using the Argus at all previously to using it 3 hours a day.

“This rehabilitation approach is safe, feasible and effective,” she said. “It provided a visual rehabilitation training approach that allowed us to focus on dual tasking.” – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO


DeBenedictis MJ, et al. Comprehensive visual and mobility training in Argus II patients using computer assisted rehabilitation system. Presented at: Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology; April 28-May 2, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia.

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.