The FDA approved Second Sight’s “bionic” eye. While actually more of a retinal prosthesis, the implant is designed to assist patients with retinitis pigmentosa. The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System has a resolution of 60 pixels. The device will not provide the HD type of vision that our eyes are capable of; however, more importantly, this technology will greatly aid a blind patient’s mobility and is a revolutionary step forward.
The system consists of a wireless retinal implant that rests on the retina. The patient will wear special glasses that see the image. The image will be sent to a visual processing unit that is worn on the patient’s hip. Once the data is processed it is sent back to the glasses which wirelessly transmit this data to the retinal implant. The implant electrically stimulates the photoreceptors simulating a coarse image. The patient learns how to interpret these light and dark images allowing them to navigate around and among obstacles.
The device was approved for use in Europe last year. Check out the video below from the European branch of the medical device company.