Is it just me? Or does it seem like new technology is being horded at some undisclosed location and being metered out, one miraculous discovery at a time, just so we don’t become jaded regarding things of this nature?
For the first time ever the FDA has approved a retinal implant for adults with a genetic eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, or RP. The disease causes damage to the light-sensitive cells that line the retina causing severe partial blindness. The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, is the result of a 10-year project funded through private and federal dollars.
A Wi-Fi-like electronic chip is implanted in the eye. The patient is then outfitted with a pair of glasses with a miniature video camera mounted on it that sends images to a smartphone-sized computer, which processes the images and sends that information back to the glasses. The eye chip then picks up the electrical signal and transmits it to the optic nerve. The brain grabs the signal, then processes it as patterns of light which enables the patient to “see” an outline mapped image of objects.
It’s not 20-20 vision of course, but researchers have high hopes for more advanced usage.
“I would say [in] five to 10 years, we’ll be able to connect video cameras directly to the brain, which will provide superb vision,” says Dr. Robert Cykiert, an opthamologist and eye surgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Of course there will be risks involved, but the benefits outweigh the risks when the outcome is partial sight from total blindness.
“I’ve actually gotten many emails and phone calls from patients around the country who have asked me about this.” says Dr. Cykiert.