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Engineering Contributes to Creation of “Bionic” Eye for the Blind

A cure for blindness has long been thought to be nearly impossible, but thanks to the efforts of the people at Second Sight Medical Products, the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System may change all of that. This new “bionic” eye has already been used to help 60 people affected with partial blindness and the results have been astounding.

European regulators have already approved the device and the FDA is currently studying it for the American marketplace.

Patients involved in the study reported at least partial restoration of sight, while others have had remarkable results. More patients are quickly signing up to have the surgery, which involves implanting the device into the eye. While most patients can only see in black and white after the surgery it still represents a tremendous step forward in medical engineering.

So far, the treatment is designed to assist those who have been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic disease. This disease impacts around 100,000 people in the United States and causes a degeneration of the photoreceptors inside the retina, eventually leading to blindness.

“We’re thinking about implanting up to 5,000 of these cells at the back of the eye that would theoretically allow for a resolution that is ten times better,” George Goetz, a member of the team responsible for the creation of the Argus II.


It is hoped that continued advancements in this field could help those with macular degeneration, a common condition that causes eventual loss of sight.

“I think the bionic eye is something that is going to work in some patients and is not going to work with all patients, but it’s an exciting time ahead,” said Grace Shen of the National Eye Institute that has supported both the Argus and Palanker projects. “We know it’s feasible, it can work, but we still have a long way to go.”

For engineers in the medical field, this new device and the success it is enjoying is great news. Soon, it may be possible to make blindness a thing of the past and help those impacted by loss of sight tremendously. It’s also a great thing for those seeking to get into medical engineering. Not only do these engineers have the potential to get involved in some truly exciting research, they also have the ability to perhaps make the blind see again.

Are you interested in a career in medical engineering? Ask the experts at Solopoint for more information today!