First bionic eye set to be approved in US

The world’s first bionic eye is soon to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the culmination of years of research.

The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, developed by Second Sight Medical products and already approved in Europe, is surgically implanted into the patient. It has already achieved a range of positive results in patients fitted with the device in Europe.

“It’s the first bionic eye to go on the market in the world, the first in Europe and the first one in the U.S.,” Brian Mech, vice-president of business development for Second Sight, told AFP.

“We had some patients who got just a little bit of benefit and others who could do amazing things like reading newspaper headlines… Mostly they see in black and white, but we have demonstrated more recently we can produce color vision as well.”

The bionic eye consists of an antenna, an electronics case and 60 electrodes, and functions together with a pair of glasses which carry a mini camera.

The device replaces the function of photoreceptors in an eye, which are the cells which convert light into electrochemical impulses which travel to the brain through the optic nerve, where they are transformed into images. The system particularly targets patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, which causes the photoreceptors in the eye to degenerate.

In Europe the bionic eye is already available on the market, priced at €73,000 (US$97,795), with the price expected to be higher in the US upon approval by the FDA.

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