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Bionic eye could help blind to see

Tuesday, 12 February 2013
Bionic eye could help blind to see
Last week channel 4 introduced us to Rex, the million dollar bionic man, and opened our minds to the possibility that in the future we could almost be superhuman with enhanced limbs and mechanical hearts extending our lives. So it should come as no surprise that this week we hear news of a life-changing bionic eye that could help the blind to see again.

The futuristic robotic eye could improve life for the blind in the US. The Argus II Prosthetic Retina is the result of years of study, although it’s currently obtainable in Europe, it’s still awaiting authorisation in America, where it was expected to be available this January.

The Argus II will benefit patients who suffer from retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease, usually passed through the family which causes severe visual impairment and blindness.

The superhuman eye was designed by Second Sight a Californian company dedicated to creating implantable visual prosthetics to give blind people a greater independence.

The device works by using two components an eye implant which contains electrodes to send information to the brain, and a pair of glasses with a small wearable camera and computer so that data can be fed wirelessly between the devices.

The implant is then able to relay information to the brain using electrical impulses which allow it to interpret light, dark and shapes in place of the damaged retina. In some cases where the prosthetic retina has already been used, patients have reported the ability to identify letters.

When speaking to the Wall Street Journal, one of the Argus’ creators, Dr. Mark Humayun of the Keck School of Medicine at USC said: “If we continue to develop this type of technology and begin to understand the new electrical language of pulses to the brain, to the eye, we can apply it to other parts of the body and we can change our world and how we relate to it.”

In the future scientists are confident that the Argus’ ability to receive software updates from external computer will make it an invaluable tool, as the implant will have no need to be changed.

Posted By +Brendan O'Brien

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