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Evidence to Improve Care

Retinal Prosthesis System for Advanced Retinitis Pigmentosa

Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee Recommendation

  • The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee recommends publicly funding the
    Argus II retinal prosthesis system for advanced retinitis pigmentosa

Read the Full Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee Recommendation Report Here


Retinitis pigmentosa is an eye disease that people are born with that slowly leads to vision loss. The Argus II retinal implant is the only treatment approved by Health Canada for retinitis pigmentosa. A device is implanted in a patient’s eye and it works with a special set of glasses to restore some vision to people with this disease.

In 2016, Health Quality Ontario published a health technology assessment of the Argus II system. Based on that assessment, the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee recommended against publicly funding the Argus II system for individuals with retinitis pigmentosa. OHTAC requested a re-evaluation after 1 year.

We have now updated our assessment based on evidence published since 2016. We assessed the clinical benefits and harms of the Argus II system, value for money, and the budget impact of publicly funding it. We also interviewed people who have used it to learn more about their experiences. 

Based on new evidence, the Argus II retinal prosthesis system improved visual function and quality of life in patients with advanced retinitis pigmentosa. The Argus II system is expensive, but the cost to publicly fund it would be low because of the small number (4) of eligible patients. The Argus II system can only enable perception of light/dark and shapes/objects, but these advancements represent important gains for people with retinitis pigmentosa in terms of mobility and quality of life.

It would cost the province $0.71 million to $0.78 million per year to fund the Argus II system, assuming 4 implants per year.


Retinal Prosthesis System for Advanced Retinitis Pigmentosa: A Health Technology Assessment Update
November 2017


Related Resources

OHTAC Recommendation: Retinal Prosthesis System for Advanced Retinitis Pigmentosa
June 2016

Retinal Prosthesis System for Advanced Retinitis Pigmentosa: A Health Technology Assessment (PDF)
June 2016

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The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is currently reviewing this recommendation.



Health Technology Assessment at Health Quality Ontario

As part of our core function to promote health care supported by the best available evidence, we use established scientific methods to analyze the evidence for a wide range of health interventions, including diagnostic tests, medical devices, interventional and surgical procedures, health care programs and models of care. These analyses are informed by input from a range of individuals, including patients and clinical experts. The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC) — a committee of the Health Quality Ontario board of directors — reviews the evidence and makes recommendations about whether health care interventions should be publicly funded or not. Draft recommendations are posted on the Health Quality Ontario website for feedback. Final recommendations are approved by our board of directors and then shared with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. For more detailed information, visit our Evidence to Improve Care pages.


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