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Radio Shows | Bionic Eye | mp3wmawav

Take a page out of the popular 70's TV series The 6-Million Dollar Man and you have our topic today: the bionic eye!

This new advance is hope for people with an inherited eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa which causes poor night vision, destroys peripheral vision and can lead to blindness.

This so called bionic eye is the Argus II Retinal Stimulation System made by Second Sight Medical Products.

This amazing system takes advantage of the advances made in microelectronics.

Here's how it works.

A patient wears a pair of eyeglasses equipped with a real time camera to acquire images.

Those images are sent to a small computer worn on a belt. They are then converted into electrical impulses sent wirelessly to a receiver implanted in the eye.

The receiver sends these signals to 60 implanted electrodes stimulating the retinal cells. The image is then processed by the brain allowing someone to see what the camera has captured all in real time.

The Argus II is now in phase II clinical trials to determine if it can restore vision and to what degree. In fact - a first generation low resolution version of the device has been in use for 5 years in a small number of patients. It gives them very limited but still valuable vision.

This new device has much higher resolution and is also much smaller, reducing the surgical trauma required to implant it. If successful, Argus II could be commercialized and would cost about $30,000.

Besides providing much better vision for patients, what researchers learn from them could lead to more powerful and sophisticated devices.

The bionic future may already be here.

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A description of the Argus II Retinal Stimulation System can be read at this web site.
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The Argus II Retinal Stimulation System is a product of Second Sight, located in Sylmar, California.
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There is information about a clinical feasibility study to test the safety and utility of the in providing visual function to blind subjects with severe to profound retinitis pigmentosa. Several sites are listed as recruiting patients.
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An excellent source of information about retinitis pigmentosa is MedlinePlus which brings together authoritative information from the Natiional Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations.
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Another resource for information comes from the University of Texas Medical Branch.
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