The US Food and Drug Administration has green lit the use of the Argus II, a two part bionic eye designed for patients who are almost completely blind through retinis pigmentosa. Its creator, Second Sight, was able to convince an advisory panel that the benefits of helping the blind see outweighed the potential risks.
The FDA sees it’s creation as a step forwards for “humanitarian use” and hopes it will be wide spread to the 100,000 people in America who suffer from the disease.
The set-up works in two parts. A small video camera located on a bridge of a special pair of glasses records the information and sends it to a processor located on the users waist. This processor then fires the image back into the glasses, where a signal is transmitted directly into electrodes surgically implanted into the eye. These electrodes act as dead optic nerve cells which process the information as natural sight and send it to the brain.
While not granting perfect vision, the Second Sight creates enough light to be comparable to “like watching TV on a screen with just 60 pixels,” as stated by PopSci. It serves enough purpose to allow those who could not see at all before to perform everyday tasks.
This new technology won’t be available for everyone from the beginning unfortunately. The implant and glasses alone will cost a steep $150,000, and it will only be available in five states to begin with. Cost aside, it’s an amazing achievement that could prove vital in the ever present battle with disabilities.