Argus 2, the world’s first bionic eye, a retinal prosthesis that can restore partial sight to people with retinitis pigmentosa, has just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Europe had given the green light this project in 2011, and it has been tested on 60 blind people worldwide. Some of them have been able to partially restore vision. Its price in the Old Continent is 73,000 euros. fifteen years has dedicated the California company Second Sight Medical Products to develop the Argus 2, a retinal prosthesis that can restore sight to people with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, a disease represents genetic degeneration of the retinal photoreceptors. This disease, which ends up causing total blindness, affects 100,000 people in the U.S. and 15,000 in Spain.
Composed by electrodes implanted in the retina and a lens with a miniature camera, recipients transforms the light captured by the eye into signals transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve. This process is ideal for those afflicted with retinitis pigmentosa, because this condition only damages the property of light detection of the photoreceptors which is inside the eyeball, and leave the remaining healthy cells of the retina.
The frequencies of 60 electrodes not completely restore vision, it’s like watching television on a screen with 60 pixels, but provides enough information so that people can move without help. Brian Mech, vice president of Second Sight, finds that the results vary by patient.
In the clinical trial of 30 participants Argus of 28 to 77 years, all completely blind, with visual acuity less than 1/10. After testing, visual acuity allowed to distinguish shapes in black and white, like a person in a door or sitting next to someone, but could not recognize the face. Even one came to read the big headlines .
But the Argus 2 is not the only project underway on the matter. Other researchers are trying to develop a bionic eye images with higher resolution and more electrodes implanted in the retina, as the team of John Wyatt, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that tested a system of 400 electrodes.
Daniel Palanker of Stanford University in California, is committed to the contario by tiny solar cells instead of electrodes, in search of a resolution ten times greater, which could also help people who lost his sight by age-related macular degeneration age.