Implant Gives New Hope to the BlindBy Avril, Tom; Philadelphia Inquirer,
Publication Date: September 8, 2009
Article describes a new retinal implant which restores some sight to people with retinitis pigmentosa. Designed by Second Sight Medical Products with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, the device, named Argus II, works much like a cochlear implant enables a deaf person to perceive sound, by bypassing damaged cells in the eye and transmitting signals to the same part of the brain that registers images in people with normal vision. The resulting black-and-white low-resolution images consist of a mere 60 pixels, enough for the implant wearer to see the outlines of doors and sidewalks or pick out plates on the dinner table. The Argus II consists of a small array of 60 electrodes implanted in the back of the wearer’s eye and a video camera the size of a pencil eraser mounted on sunglasses which sends images to the implant. At the time the article was written, the device had been implanted on 32 patients world-wide with retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease that causes retinal degeneration. Future plans, contingent on funding, for the implant includes a model with 1,000 electrodes.
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