When people with significant visual compromise wish for a treatment or cure, they don’t expect more than some medical or traditional surgical procedures. The truth is we are fast approaching an age where bionic eyes not very different from what we saw in the science fiction movies ‘Terminator’ series are being developed with promising results.
With an estimated 285 million people worldwide with visual impairment, many treatments and technological innovations have long been in development. The panacea of restoring sight to the blind is the stuff of sci-fi: the bionic eye.
A bionic eye, or retinal prosthesis system, works by bridging the gap between light entering the eye and the optic nerve — which is what communicates images to the brain so we can discern what we see.
So far, the only US FDA-approved device is the Argus II, from a company called Second Sight. It works using a camera integrated to a pair of eyeglasses, and an implant on the surface of the eye that taps into the optical nerve. Currently, Argus II users are capable of perceiving only shadows and outlines of figures.