How does the technology work exactly?
Patients using Argus II carry a small video camera housed in the patient’s glasses, that constantly captures images. These are then converted into a series of small electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to electrodes on the surface of the retina. These pulses stimulate the retina’s remaining cells so that the brain receives the corresponding perception of patterns of light. The patient then learns to interpret these visual patterns to regain some visual function.
Mr Flynn is the first AMD patient to be implanted with Argus II. The bionic eye is already used to treat the rare disease Retinitis Pigmentosa. Since 2011, the retinal prothese has been approved in Europe. In 2013, it gained FDA approval. In 89 percent of the patients the improved visual function maintained out to three years.
Stimulation of the retina. Source: www.secondsight.com
“Of course, this is only the beginning”, states President and CEO of Second Sight. The 1998 founded company is currently developing another visual prothesis, Orion I, that is designed to offer sight for people living with blindness from nearly all causes.
On the long run, Mr Flynn’s vision is expected to continue to improve. For the moment, Argus II offers a step out of darkness in a world of shapes and outlines. But the groundbreaking technology has a big potential to open doors to give patients a more complexe vision back.