New device helps blind people see

By Deana DeLisio,

A “bionic eye” has just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to help those who are completely blind to see again, to a certain extent.

The Argus II system is for people diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic disorder that damages and kills light-processing cells in the retina. This particular condition affects about 100,000 Americans, reports Time.

This system, which is being used in Europe, looks like a futuristic pair of glasses and is accompanied by a cyborg eye implant. This implant takes video camera images and transforms them into electrochemical signals for the brain to then interpret, states LiveScience.com.

Not including implant surgery or training, this Argus II system costs about $150,000.

Although it cannot make a blind person completely see again, it can help these people identify between light and dark and even boundaries of objects.

“Ten or twenty years ago, people wouldn’t think of the possibility of a bionic eye, and now it’s something that is possible,” said Grace Shen, director of the retinal diseases program at the National Eye Institute.

Dr. Mark S. Humayun, an ophthalmologist and biomedical engineer at the University of Southern California, is responsible for developing the Argus II system and has been working on this device for the past twenty years.

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