Friday, February 15, 2013

Artificial retina

[The Argus II device consists of special glasses outfitted with a video camera and a video processing unit that sends signals to a wireless receiver implanted in the eye.]

It took USD 200 million and 14 years for Second Sight Medical Products Inc of Sylmar, CA, to out-compete others and become the first to gain FDA approval for its artificial retina.

This is a good start. Indeed, much higher resolution is still needed, for one thing. The company plans to keep improving the treatment, which they hope will ultimately be used to treat age-related macular degeneration. For now, there are limitations:

(1) The FDA approved the system as a humanitarian use device, an approval that is limited to fewer than 4,000 people in the United States each year.
(2) The device is limited to adults 25 or older, with severe to profound retinitis pigmentosa who have no light perception or bare light perception, in which they can perceive light but cannot tell where it is coming from.
(3) The system will cost more than $100,000 when it is launched in the United States. And
(4) Although it does not completely restore vision, the implant helps with daily activities, such as locating objects and recognizing large letters and shapes.

[Sources: FoxNews and UDN News]