How the Argus II Bionic Eye Restored a Man’s Vision

The Argus II bionic eye partially corrected the central vision in an 80-year-old British man who suffers from age-related macular degeneration. Doctors say this could mark the beginning of a new era for patients with sight loss.

Photo Caption: 80-year-old Ray Flynn became the first person suffering from Age-related macular degeneration to receive the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) causes 5 percent of blindness throughout the world. It’s a condition that leads to the deterioration of a small area of the retina known as the macula, which is responsible for all of your high-resolution central vision.

But a new bionic eye implant has restored the central vision in an 80-year-old British man suffering from the disease, and is giving hope to others who suffer from AMD - the most common cause of vision loss in adults.

Ray Flynn is part of a clinical trial at Manchester Clinical Research Facility that will implant the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System into five patients suffering from AMD. After a four-hour surgery at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital in June 2015, Flynn became the first person with AMD to receive the Argus II, which has previously been used to help those suffering from a rare condition known as retinitis pigmentosa.

Here’s how the bionic eye, created by Second Sight, works. The Argus II receives visual information (images) from a miniature camera that’s mounted to special glasses Flynn has to wear. That information is converted into electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to electrodes attached to the retina, which stimulates the retina’s remaining cells to send information to the brain.

Before the implant, Flynn said he was “unable to put the numbers in for my card when paying in a shop or at the bank” and he couldn’t tell the difference between weeds and flowers, which was very important for the “keen gardener.”

Two weeks after the surgery, the Argus II bionic eye allowed Flynn to detect the pattern of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines on a computer screen (watch the video below) using the implant. His sight still isn’t what it was before the AMD diagnosis, but the bionic eye will continue to improve Flynn’s vision as he learns how to interpret images produced by the Argus II.

Source: Second Sight

“We hope these patients will develop some central visual function which they can work in alongside and complement their peripheral vision,” says Paulo Stanga, consultant ophthalmologist and vitreo-retinal surgeon at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and professor of ophthalmology and retinal regeneration at the University of Manchester. “We are very excited by this trial and hope that this technology might help people, including children with other forms of sight loss.”

Stanga also tells BBC News that “Flynn’s progress is truly remarkable, he is seeing the outline of people and objects very effectively. I think this could be the beginning of a new era for patients with sight loss.”

Flynn and the other patients who are part of this trial received the Argus II for free, but the treatment won’t be cheap for others, coming in at about £150,000 ($234,000). So while these trials are in the early stages and the Argus II might not be a realistic option for many patients any time soon, it could be a revolutionary device for people who lost their central vision.

[Source]: BBC News


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