Six months after receiving FDA approval, bionic eye technology known as the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System is slowly being implemented in 12 eye centers across the country. Developed by the California-based Second Sight Medical Products, the Argus II is already in limited use in some clinics in Europe.
To Argus II makes use of a series of tiny electrodes planted into the retina of a patient, these electrodes are passed along signals by a tiny computer attached to a miniature exterior camera. With this camera mounted on a pair of sunglasses, patients can see what is just ahead of them. Bionic sight is still a fairly new area, which means that it is not yet possible to restore a patient’s full vision yet; to date patients can only see in shades of black, white and grey.
Since the Argus II uses light from a camera to act in place of a fully-functioning eye, it limits the potential users of this bionic technology to a relatively small pool. Currently around 10,000 Americans meet the qualifications required to be treated by the Argus II, but new advances are always being worked on. People suffering from the rare and untreatable eye condition Retinitis pigmentosa are amongst those who may be able to benefit from Argus II’s bionic eye technology.