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Thanks to His New Bionic Eye, a Man Is Able to See for the First Time in 33 Years

bionic eye

Image credit: Duke Medicine. Larry Hester and Paul Hahn beam as Hester is able to see light for the first time in 30 years.

The first bionic eyes are able to provide a vision to blind people who have lost their sight for decades. Although recipients are still blind in the legal sense, it could be revolutionary move in the recipient’s lives. In addition, such technology is thought to be much improved very rapidly.

As one of the first bionic eye recipients in U.S.A, Larry Hester could just distinguish between light and dark under the implant operation. However from the following this video, you could see how important it is to himself as well as his family.

The device Hester has received is called as the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis Device is the research product of the DukeEyeCenter that conducted Hester’s operation. Developed by the company Second Sight Medical Products, the product had got US commercial approval last year after its successful trials on thirty recipients. Moreover, doctors and researchers are working out alternative versions for the clinical trials all over the world.

The working principle of bionic eyes is similar to cochlear implants. As light is identified by a camera, it would be converted to an electrical signal. Like the case of the bionic ear, the electronics is plugged into the scala tympani. The eye would have a retinal implant with 60 electrodes which is then linked to optic nerve so as to help   transmit the signals to the brain.

In trials of the Angus II, the best vision which had achieved so far was 20/1620, well below the threshold of blindness in the legal sense. But we should know that when the first bionic ears came into being, they were also quite limited in actual applications.

The Argus II is designed for those patients who have with retinal degeneration, in most cases, it refers to retinitis pigmentosa, kind of genetic disease which has affected 1.5 million people globally. Quite different from damage to the cornea, retinal conditions like this could not be effectively treated before.