By: Rich DeMuro
Apr. 10, 2013
A new retinal prosthesis is bringing people from the darkness into the light.
Los Angeles-based company Second Sight has developed a device, the Argus II, that promises to partially restore sight to blind patients. It is the first of its kind to be approved by the FDA.
“It’s a device that restores vision to patients that are blinded by retinal degeneration such as retinitis pigmentosa,” said Dr. Robert Greenberg, chief executive of Second Sight. “The patient sees a low resolution image with levels of gray much like a black and white television would show you.”
This has helped restore vision to patients like Kathleen Blake.
“When I’m wearing the glasses I see contrast. In a crosswalk, I can pick up the white line and follow it across the street.” Blake said.
This is all done with a pair of glasses with a camera, a small computer and an eye implant.
“A video camera in a pair of glasses picks up signals in front of patients, and that signal is then wirelessly transmitted to an implant inside the patient’s eye and electrically stimulates the remaining live tissue in the retina,” Greenberg said.
Patients perceive spots of light to create images and see movement.
“I am able to do some things or see some things that I haven’t seen for a very long time,” Blake said.
The Argus II was approved by the FDA in February, and the company is working on future software that would allow for color vision and higher resolution images for patients.