Bionic eye gives hope to the blind



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Thursday 7 February 2013

Last update 6 February 2013 11:14 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

After years of research, the first bionic eye has seen the light of day in the United States, giving hope to the blind around the world.
Developed by Second Sight Medical Products, the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System has helped more than sixty people recover partial sight, with some experiencing better results than others.
Consisting of 60 electrodes implanted in the retina and glasses fitted with a special mini camera, Argus II has already won the approval of European regulators. The US Food and Drug Administration is soon expected to follow suit, making this bionic eye the world’s first to become widely available.
“It’s the first bionic eye to go on the market in the world, the first in Europe and the first one in the US,” said Brian Mech, the California-based company’s vice president of business development.
Those to benefit from Argus II are people with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic disease, affecting about 100,000 people in the US, that results in the degeneration of the retinal photoreceptors.
The photoreceptor cells convert light into electrochemical impulses that are transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve, where they are decoded into images.
“The way the prosthesis works (is) it replaces the function of the photoreceptors,” Mech told AFP.
Thirty people aged 28 to 77 took part in the clinical trial for the product, all of whom were completely blind.
Mech said the outcomes varied by participant.
“We had some patients who got just a little bit of benefit and others who could do amazing things like reading newspaper headlines,” he said.
In some cases, the subjects could even see in color.
“Mostly they see in black and white, but we have demonstrated more recently we can produce color vision as well,” Mech said. According to Mech, Argus II is already available in several European countries for 73,000 euros ($ 99,120). A US price has not been set but is likely to be higher, he said.
“Now we are (at) around 60 patients... We have tons of surgeries scheduled, the number is growing almost daily,” he said.
Other researchers are also vying to develop bionic eyes of their own, that would offer higher resolution images with more electrodes implanted in the retina.
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a team lead by John Wyatt is working on a system that would have up to 400 electrodes.
Daniel Palanker of California’s Stanford University is proposing a different approach based on tiny photovoltaic cells instead of electrodes.
“We’re thinking about implanting up to 5,000 of these cells at the back of the eye that would theoretically allow for a resolution that is ten times better,” George Goetz, a member of Palanker’s team, told AFP. This system would also help individuals who lost their sight due to age-related macular degeneration, he added.

These photovoltaic cells convert light into electrical impulses that stimulate the nerve cells in the retina, which then transmit the signals to the brain.
This system has successfully been tested in rats, and the first clinical trial could begin in a year, probably in France. Palanker is linked with French company Pixium Vision based in Paris.
Grace Shen, of the National Eye Institute that has supported both the Argus and Palanker projects, said work on stem cells and optogenetics were also important areas to focus on in developing treatments or the prevention of blindness. Through optogenetics, retina cells can be genetically modified to render them light-sensitive again.
“I think the bionic eye is something that is going to work in some patients and is not going to work with all patients, but it’s an exciting time ahead,” said Shen.
“We know it’s feasible, it can work, but we still have a long way to go.”

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir says if the Syrian political process fails, Bashar Assad will have to be removed “by force.”“I believe Assad is weak and I believe Assad is finished,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview...
JEDDAH: Employees of the Education Office in Al-Daer governorate, Jazan, where seven people were gunned down on Thursday are in a state of shock and perplexed as to what prompted the attacker — a teacher — to take such an extreme step.The teacher, id...
JEDDAH: The campaign to support Syrian refugees with all their needs is being carried out effectively, as per the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman....
RIYADH: The Ministry of Municipalities and Rural Affairs has ordered the allocation of separate sections for female members of municipal councils.This was announced by Jedaie Al-Qahtani of the ministry. “This is in implementation of Clause 107 of the...
DAMMAM: The 9th Saudi Student Conference which is being held on Feb. 13-14 is sponsored by Umm Al-Qura University and hosted by the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. It was organized by the Scientific Society for Saudi Students in the...
RIYADH: Over the past 10 years, begging in the Kingdom has increased substantially, with the number of organized gangs of expatriate beggars increasing to 85 percent of the total number of beggars, according to Social Affairs Ministry Majed Al-Qassab...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Health said it expects its blood donation drive will received 450,000 milliliters (ml) of blood when the Janadriyah festival ends on Feb. 19.Khalid Ibrahim Zobaie, who supervises the blood donation project, said the drive is i...
JEDDAH: The Shoura Council’s decision to reduce working hours in the private sector from 48 hours to 40 hours per week would result in additional operational costs in the sector due to 30 percent higher wages for expat workers, according to Mansour b...
MADINAH: Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman recently visited a number of ongoing developmental project sites in the Holy City, as part of his efforts to ensure that they meet the set standards and deadlines.During the visit, he said that all the s...
RIYADH: The National Guard Ministry is studying the possibility of having two countries as guests of honor each year instead of one at the Janadriyah festival for culture and heritage, the Kingdom’s most prestigious annual festival.This was revealed...
DAMMAM: The Pakistan International School in Alkhobar hosted their 49th annual prize distribution ceremony to honor outstanding students in the presence of Pakistani Ambassador Manzoor Ul Haq and his wife, Nighat Manzoor.Haq appreciated the efforts o...
DAMMAM: The Weaam Association for Family Care in the Eastern Province has succeeded in addressing more than 700 cases of family disputes during the last one year.Abdulrahman Al-Khudair, Weaam’s director of public delations, said: “The association off...
JEDDAH: The Nakheel mall case has continued to grab the limelight, with a number of lawyers now offering their services to the girl who was roughed up by some Haia members in Riyadh. Some people also expressed, through social media, their support to...
RIYADH: Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh inaugurated this week a campaign tosafeguard Saudi society against bad influences.“The campaign seeks to immunize society in the Kingdom from deviant ideas as well as utter lies and heresies that could...
RIYADH: A Filipino nurse who works at a clinic in Riyadh has been missing for a week, her colleagues has said.According to a co-worker at the clinic, the 43-year-old nurse from from Lamitan town in Basilan province, southern Philippines, wa...

Stay Connected

Facebook