SYLMAR, CA – The FDA has approved something that will allow the blind to see.
It’s not for ‘all’ blind people, just the ones with retinitis pigmnentosa. That’s a condition where the retinas degenerate, causing sight loss over time.
Now those folks can wear a pair of glasses called the Argus II that have a small video camera built in. That camera will then send an image to a sheet of about 60 electrode sensors that have been sewn into their eyes!!
Hey — no pain, no gain, right?
The sensors then send the image to the brain through the optic nerve and allow the person not to see just light and dark but actual shapes.
Argus II has limited FDA approval, meaning it can only be used on about 4,000 patients a year. But about 100,000 Americans have the degenerative condition, so let’s hope they open that up a bit.
Second Sight, the company behind the Argus II, says they’re working on upgrades that would allow patients to see colors, too.
Still, it won’t help Tommy Carroll, a college kid born with retinal cancer who has become an internet sensation. He was blind by age two but doesn’t let that stand in his way when it comes to skateboarding. He says he does it by listening to the sounds of his wheels, but you ask us, and it ain’t nothin’ but God’s grace.
The Argus II device got the thumbs up in Europe back in 2011, so you can bet RP sufferers here are thrilled the FDA has finally seen the light.