Eyes aren’t the windows to the soul; they’re the windows to the brain
Biotechnology has become one of the fastest-growing areas of scientific research in the past 20 years, with new devices quickly going into clinical trials. We’ve seen successful bionic arms and legs, but how about a bionic eye? The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System provides sight — the detection of light — to people who have gone blind due to degenerative eye diseases such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. Both diseases damage the eyes’ photoreceptors, which are the cells at the back of the retina responsible for perceiving light patterns to pass along to the brain. The bionic eye implant takes the place of these photoreceptors.
How does it work?
The system has three parts: a small electronic device that is implanted in and around the eye, a small video camera attached to a pair of glasses, and a video processing unit that’s worn or carried by the patient. The video camera is used to capture images surrounding the wearer’s environment, and these images become an electrical signal which is processed by the video processing unit. The signal is then wirelessly delivered to the eye stimulating the retina, and the electrical stimulation of the retina is recognized by the brain as spots of light.
What will it accomplish?
Overall, the Argus II is designed to improve patients’ visual function and produce the sensation of light. Results of the clinical study showed that the system helped wearers identify the location or movements of objects and people; recognize large letters, words, or sentences; and helped with daily activities such as detecting street curbs and walking on a sidewalk.
For people suffering from blindness, the Argus II is the world’s first approved device to restore some functional vision. It’s approved for use in the United States and the European Economic Area. For additional information, see the Summary of Safety and Probably Benefit and labeling, available through the FDA.
Written for Electronic Products.