FDA nearing approval of the first bionic eye
Things like cyborgs and bionics have long been the staple of science fiction, but as with all things in our technological world, it was only a matter of time before the science of bionics went from the pages of a science fiction paperback and into our everyday world.
It has taken years of incredible amounts of research, followed by prototypes and clinical trials, but the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is on the verge of giving its blessing to the first bionic eye meant to treat blindness.
The Argus II is designed primarily to combat the effects of a genetic condition known as retinitis pigmentosa that causes the photoreceptors in the eye to stop functioning properly, thereby, leading to blindness. The condition affects some 100,000 people in the United States and researchers make it clear that the Argus II is not a silver bullet to cure all forms of blindness.
Europe has already approved the Argus II and is being implanted into patients right now. The procedure has already been done on over 60 patients with varying, but still positive, results.
The way the Argus II works is by implanting a small array of electrodes—meant to replace the functions of the degraded photoreceptor cells—in the retina, then a pair of glasses equipped a small camera will feed images into the electrodes.
While the outcomes so far have been mixed, all the patients involved in the testing have seen some benefit. Some went from seeing nothing to being able to at least make out shadows. However, others have regained enough "vision" to make out newspaper headlines.
As for the price tag, the Argus II will cost patients around $100,000 mark. Although, that might seem like a lot for those that are afflicted with this condition, the Argus II is definitely the future come true.