Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Wireless Networking Science Technology

First Bionic Eye Gets FDA Blessing 42

coondoggie writes "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved what it says is the first bionic eye, or retinal prosthesis, that can partially restore the sight of blind individuals after surgical implantation. The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System includes a small video camera, transmitter mounted on a pair of eyeglasses, video processing unit (VPU) and an implanted artificial retina. The VPU transforms images from the video camera into electronic data that is wirelessly transmitted to the retinal prosthesis."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

First Bionic Eye Gets FDA Blessing

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seeing as how some McDonalds employees physically assaulted Professor Steve Mann in an attempt to rip off his prosthetically-mounted digital eye glass, I take it they may also feel threatened by bionic eyes and may ban or even attempt to remove them. Sound far-fetched? Read what McDonalds did to Dr. Mann [], and decide for yourself.

    • Not really a problem, here. This is a retinal implant, not a hunk of plastic and metal attached to your face.

      • Are you seeing the same photos of users of this implant as I am?

        Or did you read the informative article where it states: "Specifically the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System includes a small video camera, transmitter mounted on a pair of eyeglasses, video processing unit (VPU) and an implanted artificial retina."?

  • Brain Interface (Score:5, Informative)

    by balsy2001 ( 941953 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @04:38AM (#42907615)
    I hope that eventually we get to the point where full sight can be restored for all blind individuals. However, there are many reasons for blindness and this one will probably only help with those caused by problems with the by the retina (at least in the near term, long term all of this research will be tremendously valuable). It seems like the Argus II is still in the general size, shape, motion category, but even that would be a tremendous gain to someone that has lost their sight. I read this article [] a couple of years ago. It talks about trying to go beyond capturing general size, shape, and motion in visual prosthetic by recoding the information to a more natural state. If the interface with the brain can be figured out, all kinds of possibilities will open up. Geordi Laforge's visor may be closer than we think.
    • Re:Brain Interface (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ldobehardcore ( 1738858 ) <steven,dubois&gmail,com> on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:41AM (#42907889)

      I saw a University of Washington (I get the TV channels) lecture on a study of natural vision coding

      They basically hooked a monkey's optic nerve into a ton of monitoring electrodes, then showed the monkey a set of images while recording. They then programmed a Neural network to replicate the exact same output as the monkey with the same input, and hooked it into blind monkeys testing against the calibration we use today in humans.

      The standard calibration method is the squares test. They send a pulse to each electrode and have the subject point at the relative location on an easel where they see a flash from the activation. So for a 64 electrode system, the subject sees 64 flashes. They're then tested on shapes and sizes of objects (object recognition)

      The blind monkeys were trained this method using the standard equipment and coding, (testing for grapes and dice). But when they split them into two groups, the monkeys with the neural net coding did much better after a couple of weeks after they got their coding replaced with the neuralnet input from a human.

      I don't think there was a stellar control in the study, but the results are intriguing, and I think it merits further research. Perhaps with MRI mapping of how the optic nerve connects to the visual processing area, and how it changes during blindness.

      • A far more intriguing experiment was that of a mouse I recently read about. Basically, its artificially severed optic nerves were 'guided' to heal again (this can be done with humans too, to a certain degree). Afterwards the mouse's vision was totally garbled, though, as the wires were all crossed, as it were.

        Here, however, nature applied a brilliant trick to solve the cross-wiring, fully automagically! The idea is based in a simple physics. When one of the retna's photoreceptor cells 'fires', it does not f

        • Reminds me of something I read about a long time ago. If you were to one day put on glasses that flipped the world upside-down, and wear them non-stop, after a few weeks, your brain would adjust to make that look right to you, and then if you take the glasses _off_ the world would look upside-down.
          • This actually happens in everybody. The lens of the human eye inverts the image that comes through it. Human newborns haven't yet learned to correct for this, and their ability to follow motions with their eyes is thus impaired. By a month or so of age*, their brains have corrected and see things as we do. This is part of why it's important for babies to have moving objects to watch; it gives them things to learn eye-tracking with*.

            * I'm no expert in the development of babies; this is stuff I read about yea

    • by wmac1 ( 2478314 )

      These kind of solutions would only work if blindness is not related to the nerves carrying information to brain. So still some of the blind would be out of luck with these.

      • Re:Brain Interface (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:47AM (#42907939)

        Figure out the coding and feeding directly into the primary visual cortex is feasible. Tricky part is making an implant that can continue to function for many years without needing replacement.

        • And is small enough to not be too burdensome. No one wants to walk around all day with 20lbs of hardware strapped to their face.
      • Retinitus Pigmentosa is what this is meant to deal with, which is usually caused by a lack of bloodflow to the retina causing it to slowly die over time. By augmenting the retina, you restore sight. Sure this won't cure autism, either, but it's not meant to. As someone whose father has retinitus pigmentosa, this is extremely welcome news, as it means he might start feeling confident about moving around outside again.
    • Camera implants are for borgs.. regenerative medicine should provide a viable cure, we need something more like this [].
      • But eventually, the bionic eyes will be able to do things a natural eye cannot.

        I, for one, welcome our new cyborg Overlords.

        Better yet, I may be one of your new Cyborg Overlords. Start sucking up to me now, and beat the Christmas rush!

      • I would love to see these kinds of solutions work too and stem cells just rock. I think both types of research will provide valuable information and exciting possibilities. Whichever one can restore/provide sight first is great. Who knows there may be some kinds of problems where each solution is superior to the other (whether it be cost, performance, risk, etc.). Even if the brain interface work and electronics aren't really used for vision issues in the future, the methods may become applicable in oth
  • Just Saying... Seriously though, this is pretty awesome.
  • by MassacrE ( 763 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @04:49AM (#42907665)

    But, does it look like a women's hair clip painted gold?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Was approved in Europe nearly 2 years ago.

    Try again.

  • till we get here []
  • All those years wearing a stupid-looking visor that looks like he swiped it from a cylon, and it turns out that the eye implants already existed!

    • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @07:59AM (#42908531)

      Actually, the series did address that (or it might have been in one of the novels, ask a real trekkie). In the TNG timeframe, medical tech would have been easily up to the task of growing replacement biological eyes and reconnecting them. Geordie could have had that done any time he wished. He took the visor out of choice, because it provided him with vision in some ways superior to natural which he considered made him a better engineer. Most usefully, it could image in the thermal infra-red, allowing him to see at a glance patterns of heat dissipation that others would need hand-held instrumentation to observe, and because he saw these every time he looked at any component he gained a far greater understanding of what 'normal' looked like and how to spot slight deviations from it - allowing him to recognise a near-failure component that any normally-sighted engineer wouldn't notice until it failed completly.

      • He took the visor out of choice, because it provided him with vision in some ways superior to natural which he considered made him a better engineer.

        And nothing to do with the fact that he could switch to millimeter waves whenever Ensign Lefler [] walked by.

  • I saw a program [] a while back interviewing an author about a book called "Crashing Through", where the main character looses his sight when he is very young, and then has it restored to him later in life. The problem was that because his brain had not learned to interpret the signals coming from it, he was unable to get "Normal" vision. From what I remember of the interview, a lot of people who have been in a similar situation get very depressed because they know their vision will never be restored and they

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors