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Brief Published: 25 Feb 2013

Argus II: Bionic Eye


US medical firm Second Sight has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for the Argus II – a prosthetic eye device for those suffering from retinal pigmentosa, a genetic eye disease that leads to blindness.

The Argus II consists of a headpiece with glasses, small camera, wireless transmitter and retinal implant. The device converts video images captured by a miniature camera in the user’s glasses into a series of small electrical pulses, which are wirelessly transmitted to electrodes that sit on the surface of the retina. The retinal implant recognises patterns of light that are then interpreted by the brain.

Although it cannot fully restore sight, the Argus II enables patients to detect shapes and movement. The device was approved in Europe in 2011 and is the first and only FDA-approved retinal prosthesis.

“With this approval, we look forward to building a strong surgical network in the US and recruiting new hospitals that will offer the Argus II retinal implant. This is a game changer in sight-affecting diseases,” chief executive Robert Greenberg said in a statement.

For more on pioneering projects that uncover the latest in body-hacking technologies, see Technological Body Modification.

Second Sight