The FDA has approved an amazing technology that allows patients who are blind from certain types of retinal degeneration to see again.
It’s called the Argus II Retinal Prosthetic Implant and it allows people who suffer from blindness due to certain conditions, such as Retinitis Pigmentosa, to see lights, shapes, and movement. Transformed signals from a miniature video camera worn on a pair of glasses are wirelessly sent to a tiny implant on the retina by a computerized transformer worn by the patient. The implant stimulates the remaining healthy retinal cells, which then communicate with the brain to create vision. In this way, the damaged retinal cell layer is bypassed. Patients must learn to interpret what they are “seeing”, as the visual image created is not the same as what was experienced prior to vision loss.
Right now, the best outcome is limited to vision in the 20/1200 range. In clinical trials, success was measured by the ability to perform tasks like locating parked and moving cars, following a sidewalk, finding doorways, and sorting dark and light laundry. As the technology continues to improve, hopes are that one day people who have lost their vision due to a number of different conditions might be able to see again through use of this technology or something like it.
Image is the Argus II Prosthetic Implant as described on www.fda.gov
Written by Bart Wiggenhorn, Technician, Milwaukee Eye Care