A Hawaiian woman is now able to see again due to a cutting-edge technological device – a bionic eye- which was implanted on March 24.
The procedure was conducted by Dr. Gregg T. Kokame from the Hawaii Eye Surgery Center. The 72 year-old-woman is the recipient of the second bionic eye to have ever been developed. The first project took place two years ago when a team of scientists from Bionic Vision Australia created a prototype of a bionic eye implant.
The surgery took about four hours. The co-inventor of the Argus II Dr. Mark Humayu, Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Southern California bionic eye was also present. After the intervention, the 72-year-old woman, was able to detect shades of grey.
The patient suffered from a genetic condition known as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and had been blind for two years. RP is an inherited illness and can cause severe vision impairment due to the progressive degeneration that affects rod photoreceptor cells located in the retina.
The woman’s capacity to see has been improved but only to a certain degree. Scientists expect her vision to further ameliorate as she goes through the recovery phase. According to Dr. Kokame, the patient should develop the ability to detect motion in a couple of months. Also, with time, she should be able to notice when a person enters or leaves the room and differentiate various shades of grey.
The recovery phase will last about a week. At the end of this stage, the woman is expected to perceive up to 9 colors.
The bionic eye is a system consisted of the actual implant and a type of glasses. After implanting the eye, the glasses will record images just like a camera which are then sent to the device for processing. After the images are converted, they are sent to the retina which will further transfer them to the optic nerve. In the end, the information will reach the brain where the images are identified.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the $144,000 bionic eye. Unfortunately, the device can only improve the sight of those who lost it due to hereditary diseases. Scientists hope the technology will be further developed so that other types of patients with impaired vision can benefit from such a treatment.
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