Q: What is the artificial retina or bionic eye?
A: The science of restoring vision in patients with blindness is advancing rapidly. Various strategies for restoring vision have been proposed, but the only currently available, FDA-approved artificial retina is the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis. The device uses a miniature video camera housed in glasses to transmit a signal wirelessly to a microchip that is implanted on the surface of the retina.
The chip releases pulses of electricity to bypass light-sensing cells (photoreceptors), which are damaged in conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa. Patients with previous total blindness are then able to sense patterns of light, which assist in navigation and other activities.
While currently only available for a limited number of inherited retinal diseases and only performed by few retina specialist, clinical trials are underway and experience is growing to expand its use for more patients. Additional information can be obtained by making an appointment with a retina specialist familiar with implanted retinal devices.
— Dr. Devon Ghodasra, Southeastern Retina Associates; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society