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This is exciting news because the Second Sight device is the first bionic eye approved for patients in the US. The Argus II is the first treatment in existence that can replace the function of lost photoreceptors (light sensing cells) in the eye.
How it works
The device transmits images from a small, eye-glass-mounted camera to a microelectrode array implanted on a patient’s damaged retina. The patient gets about 20 degrees of visual field.
Who can get it?
The FDA approved the device for people who have lost sight from retinitis pigmentosa (RP), which affects one in every 4,000 Americans.
What can they see?
The implant allows RP patients who are completely blind to locate objects, detect movement and discern shapes such as large letters. Pretty amazing considering that these patients were completely blind prior to the surgery.
Long time coming
The research team began their work in he 1980s and have received close to $200 million in funding from both governmental (NSF, NIH, DOE) and private sources to bring this device to market.
The price of this device is speculated to be around $100,000. There is no word yet about insurance coverage.
Photo credit: nsf.gov
(Note: I have no financial relationship to the company or products described in this post.)