My opinion: I can understand how it has taken 20 years to develop this - I think this has always been a dream invention for some people, but now it is finally real! What's even better is that this helps people who suffer from the worst types of genetic blindness. Perhaps it can also help those who have less severe forms of blindness, and those who were blinded in accidents. Unfortunately, it is incredibly expensive. Though I can see the price decreasing in coming years, I think this is the same with all great inventions, even for ones that may cure what would otherwise be terminal illnesses. Is it possible to make the bionic eye more accessible? Would it help it researchers developed it elsewhere? And can eye doctors from more places pool their efforts into this project? Feel free to comment.
Duke University Hospital becomes test site for first ‘bionic eye’
Jul. 13, 2013 @ 10:11 PM
DURHAM —Duke University Hospital will soon be able to surgically implant the first retinal prosthesis in the world that can partly restore a blind patient’s vision.
The company behind the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, Second Sight in Sylmar, Calif., said the idea for the technology was born at Duke.
The project began as “just a back porch idea,” according to Mark Humayun, a University of Southern California professor who received his education at Duke University Medical School and the University of North Carolina for biomedical engineering.
The Argus, which refers to the giant in Greek mythology with 100 eyes, is an innovation more than 20 years in the making.
The prosthesis includes an antenna, electronics case and electrode array that are surgically implanted in and on the eye. The external equipment includes glasses, a video processing unit and a cable.
The miniature video camera housed in the patient’s glasses captures a scene, which ends up being transmitted as instructions into the implant. Light patterns are created, which the patient learns to interpret as visual patterns, according to Second Sight.
The retinal prosthesis was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February and will be implanted in patients suffering from severe to profound retinitis pigmentosa. These patients get diagnosed with the genetic disease in their 20s and slowly begin to lose their peripheral vision.