Many of you may have already heard, but the first-ever bionic eye was approved by the FDA on February 14. The implantable device is a prosthesis for the retina, and is used to restore partial sight for people with Retinitis Pigmentosa. Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is a degenerative disease that destroys the retina over a period of time. The device, called Argus II is already approved in Europe and should be available in the US later this year. More on the Argus II can be found in this Wall Street Journal article titled Bionic Eye Becomes a Reality.
Pretty awesome to witness such a giant leap in the cure for blindness. I hope this will be just the beginning of research and progress towards restoring sight for other eye diseases as well. I hope too that there will be more research on restoring sight and hearing with natural tissue, not just through technology.
I am one of those extremely rare cases where I have a completely different condition for each eye. My left eye has optic nerve hypoplasia, or a small, thin optic nerve. My right eye has congenital glaucoma, which means fluid pressure builds up in the eye because it doesn’t drain properly. I’ve been told that the biggest potential to help fix these conditions is stem cells. But, technology is changing so rapidly that who knows what will be around a few years from now.