First FDA-approved bionic eye implant could cure blindness

By Vamien McKalin, Tech Times | February 7, 6:58 PM

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Bionic Eye

The first bionic eye implants have been successfully conducted by doctors of University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center on patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa. As it's FDA-approved, it could be a big step forward towards curing blindness.
(Photo : Pierre)

The idea of fusing humans with robotic parts was once in the domans of sci-fi novels and movies but it could well turn out to be the future of science. Surgeons at the University of Michigan have sucessfully implanted FDA-approved bionic eyes into patients suffering from eye disorder.

Researchers at the Michigan University have managed to develop a DNA chip known as a microarray. This particular chip is highly customizable, and will be able to help doctors diagnose eye disorders in the near future. More importantly, the doctors have managed to successfully perform their first artificial eye implant surgery into patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa.

Retinitis pigmentosa is an eye disease that eventually leads to blindness if drastic measures are not taken quickly enough to combat it.

"We wanted to offer this to our patients because we see a lot of patients with advanced pigmentosa," said Thiran Jayasundera, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University's Kellogg Eye Center. "We wanted our patients in Michigan to be able to have access to this technology."

The bionic eye was developed by Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. in California. Ever since the Food and Drug Administration had approved the bionic eye last year, the first doctors to perform the procedure on a human are Thiran Jayasundera and David N. Zacks.

The device itself is quite interesting, since it is a wireless bionic eye that works via a camera connected to electrodes. Apparently, the electrodes stimulate nerve fibers, which cause for the brain to pick up the perception of light.

"You're wearing a video camera on your glasses," Jayasundera said. "That video camera basically sends the information into a video processing unit that you wear on a belt. The image is converted into signals that wirelessly transmit it to this device that we implant on the retina."

Patients are required to undergo up to three months of training to allow their brain to adapt to the bionic eye and the vision it gives. Bear in mind that the bionic eye does not provide 20/20 perfect vision at this time. However, it is indeed a step in the right direction for a full cure for blindness in the future to come.

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