A Bionic Eye Comes to Market

This entry is from Gail Johnson.


A retinal prosthesis gets clinical approval in Europe.

After more than two decades of research and development, the first retinal prosthesis has received European approval for clinical and commercial use. People blinded by degenerative eye disease will have the option of buying an implant that can restore their vision at least partially.

Second Sight’s device, the Argus II, will cost around $115,000 and be available only through a small number of clinics in Switzerland, France, and the U.K. The company hopes to receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by next year.

With the Argus II system, a camera mounted on a pair of glasses captures images, and corresponding signals are fed wirelessly to chip implanted near the retina. These signals are sent to an array of implanted electrodes that stimulate retinal cells, producing light in the patient’s field of view. The process works for people with retinitis pigmentosa because the disease damages only the light-sensing photoreceptors, leaving the remaining retinal cells healthy.

So far, the Argus II can restore only limited vision. “Patients can locate and recognize simple objects, see people in front of them, and follow their movement,” says Greenberg. “They can find doors and windows, follow lines, and in the best cases read large print slowly,” he says.

http://mobile.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/35064/

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