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Bionic eye brings sight to another patient in Turkey

A month after the first "Argus II-Bionic Eye" surgery in Turkey which helped Dilek Ümran Öztürk, the second operation was performed on 46-year-old Hatice İnsel.  İnsel lost her vision five years ago to retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that affects approximately twenty thousand people in Turkey and known colloquially as night blindness, before she was saved by an eye operation called Argus II - Bionic Eye. Hatice İnsel shared her life story and her first moments after perceiving light with the bionic eye in the press meeting held at Dünyagöz Etiler branch, during which the first case patient Dilek Ümran Öztürk was also in attendance.

The second Argus II - Bionic Eye surgery in Turkey was performed by the Argus doctor’s team; leading by Dünyagöz Hospitals Group Medical Director Prof. Ioannis Pallikaris, Asst. Prof. Nur Acar, Dr. Fevzi Akkan and Dr. A Nilüfer Köylüoğlu.


Describing how she never lost hope even after losing the ability to see, Hatice İnsel remarked, "I am the second person with a bionic eye in this country and I cannot put this happiness into words. It’s been approximately 13 days since the operation. The operation was a real success. I can perceive the light now." Thanking the team at Dünyagöz, she said, "After about three months of training my vision will be much better and I’ll be able to perform my daily activities more easily. I can’t wait to take care of my own needs and help out my daughter, I’m really excited."


Born in Nicosia and with two children, İnsel is trying to look after her daughter who is suffering from Rett syndrome. "Getting out of darkness was a dream for me — I found about my condition when I was 12. I also have a daughter and a son. My son was born in 1995 and my daughter in 1998, and after I heard about my daughter’s illness, my night blindness gradually became worse," said İnsel. İnsel, whose husband was a huge help with her daughter’s care since she was born, said, "My eye condition became worse as my daughter’s treatment went on. Because of stress, my daily life became more difficult. These difficulties compelled us to make crucial decisions. In 2010, my husband took an early retirement in order to help me and my daughter. As a mother, it is my biggest wish to look after my sick daughter, my son and my husband in a greater capacity.


Dünyagöz Hospitals Group Medical Director Prof. Ioannis Pallikaris has expressed his gratitude with the success they have achieved with the second operation of its kind after such a short period. "I can say on behalf of myself and the team that we are very happy and very proud," said Pallikaris.  Prof. Ioannis Pallikaris, after emphasizing the massive success they have obtained in the surgery, said that Hatice İnsel’s vision would improve with time and training, and that she would be able to perform her own daily chores.

Dünyagöz Hospitals Group Member of the Board of Directors Gülferi Yıldırım, who was happy with another unique achievement, commented, "Our 20-year-old dream became a reality today. Since our foundation, we have followed medical advances closely and performed unique operations in Turkey in order to protect the vision of millions of patients and to rejuvenate their eyes’ health. The Argus project is one step beyond — We are grateful and proud to bring light to eyes without vision. Our goal has always been to provide the ultimate service with our technological infrastructure and our veteran team of doctors. Both of our Argus II - Bionic Eye operations were a success. These operations have been a beacon of hope for patients who lost their vision to retinitis pigmentosa as well as for their relatives. As you all know, Argus II surgeries are mainly performed in the U.S. and in leading countries in Europe. This treatment is covered by the government in countries such as Germany and France. We are hoping the same will be true in Turkey." 


Argus II - Bionic Eye system consists of two parts. In the surgical operation, the internal piece is inserted into the eye. The external piece is comprised of patient goggles and a video processing unit. Pictures taken from the miniature camera on the goggles are processed in the video processing unit and sent wirelessly via the goggles’ antenna to the retinal implant that is inserted into the eye. The implant, which receives these instructions, delivers the stimulus through a series of electrodes to the retina. As a result, the patients begin to perceive black and white, and their shadow and light perception is heightened. After the patients begin to perceive images, they are given training on how to use their eyes.


Argus II - Bionic Eye surgery is especially suitable for those night blindness patients who lost their vision gradually but retained their optical nerve, and also for patients older than 25 years who can perceive light at least in one eye. With the ability to express various genetic cross-over properties and to cause blindness in cases like inbreeding, night blindness affects 1 in 4 thousand people in Turkey and is considered rare. Approximately 20 thousand people suffer from this condition. In the whole Europe, this figure is 167 thousand. In night blindness, light-sensitive cells in the retina gradually lose their function. As a result, vision problems and eventually blindness occurs. Bionic Eye surgery for night blindness improves vision and level of perception by enhancing shadow and light perception for those suffering from visual impairment later in life due to this condition.

According to Prof. Pallikaris, who said, "The first Argus II operation for age-related dry macular degeneration / yellow spot disease was performed in UK. After FDA’s screening process, provided that the operation is deemed to be successful, in a few years this treatment can also be performed in Turkey," work is underway for applying the same treatment for conditions other than night blindness.


For the purposes of finding a suitable patient for Argus II - Bionic Eye surgery, doctors inspect everything including patients’ personal history. The process consists of three phases: Finding a suitable patient for the surgery, the surgical operation itself and rehabilitation. Finding a suitable patient involves paying attention to eye examination findings along with the motivations of the patients themselves and of their caretakers.




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