Last month, surgeons at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital successfully performed the world’s first bionic eye implant in a patient with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). One of the most common causes of irreversible central vision loss in elderly patients, AMD limits vision to the periphery.
The retinal implant works as part of the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, which has three parts: the retinal implant, a tiny video camera attached to a pair of glasses and a video processing unit (VPU) that is worn/carried by the patient. The system works by capturing images from the video camera, which become an electrical signal processed by the VPU. The electrical signal from the VPU is wirelessly delivered to the eye to stimulate the retina, which becomes recognized by the brain as spots of light.
Following implantation, the patient can now see the outlines of people and objects very clearly. The system offers a promising therapy for AMD but with a total price tag of $230,000, the number of patients receiving this implant surgery may be limited.