Blind Man Fitted With Argus II Bionic Eye from Second Sight Now Sees Light

March 6, 2009

For those of us who grew up watching the Six Million Dollar Man, the notion of a bionic eye was in the realm of science fiction. No more. The BBC reported this week that after being fitted with a bionic eye, a man who lost his sight 30 years ago says he can now follow white lines on the road, and even sort socks.

Known as the Argus II, the bionic eye was developed by Second Sight, a California company that develops, manufactures and markets implantable visual prosthetics to enable blind individuals to achieve greater independence.

As described by Second Sight, the bionic eye consists of a tiny camera and transmitter mounted in eyeglasses, an implanted receiver, and an electrode-studded array that is secured to the retina with a microtack the width of a human hair. A wireless microprocessor and battery pack worn on the belt powers the entire device. The camera on the glasses captures an image and sends the information to the video processor, which converts the image to an electronic signal and sends it to the transmitter on the sunglasses. The implanted receiver wirelessly receives this data and sends the signals through a tiny cable to the electrode array, stimulating it to emit electrical pulses. The pulses induce responses in the retina that travel through the optic nerve to the brain, which perceives patterns of light and dark spots corresponding to the electrodes stimulated. Patients learn to interpret the visual patterns produced into meaningful images.

Click here for theĀ full BBC news story.

Visit the Second Sight website.




Jump down to form below to submit your own comments

2 Responses to “Blind Man Fitted With Argus II Bionic Eye from Second Sight Now Sees Light”

  • Dr. Weitzner

    i checked out the video- this patient has rp- his retina is shot. the camera sends a signal to an implant in his retina- so the implant is really bypassing the retina, not stimulating the retina, which makes sense. well, technically, he is still using the nerve fiber layer to send the signal to the optic nerve, so technically, he is indeed using his retina. so, he’s bypassing the photoreceptors and the rest of the retina.

    anyway, who doesn’t think that considering the scientific rate of progress we have seen in the past 50 years, that in another 50 years, this technology will allow functional vision? the basic idea is sound, and the technology is basically there- just need to cram more and more info in the implant. and since the amount of information that can be stored on a chip continues to multiply dramatically, it seems like a done deal. from what i read, scientists are close to using photons as units of storing data, which will be a quantum leap over what can be stored on today’s silicon chips.

  • Dr. Weitzner

    not sure if i understand this- it seems that in the end, the retina i somehow being stimulated to send impulses to the optic nerve. that can’t be right, as it implies that retina and optic nerve are working, but that the signal just can’t get to the retina in the first place. that means the media is no good, and corneal/cataract surgery would fix that.
    would like to read a fuller account of this device written by the doctors themselves, as i think the lay press missed something.