In Brief
The first FDA-approved retinal implants have effectively restored vision on a patient suffering from Retinitis pigmentosa.
I Can See Clearly Now

Terry Byland, a USC Eye Institute patient, just earned the distinction of being the first person to have received two retinal implants. The results from his surgery leaves others suffering from the same condition optimistic about the device being used in future procedures.

Byland, who was diagnosed with Retinitis pigmentosa, experienced gradual loss of sight and eventually lost vision at the age of 45. He joined clinical trials for the first prosthesis, Argus 1, which led to his right eye getting a 16-electrode retinal prosthesis in 2004. By 2015, Byland’s left eye was implanted with the 60-electrode Argus II.  

“Once the Argus II was activated, I was immediately able to see what it took the original device more than two years to let me see,” said Byland in an article published in PR Newswire.

The Argus II uses a small video camera attached to a pair of eyeglasses, where the images taken go through a video processing unit to become wirelessly transmitted electronic signals, which works with the artificial retina. The receiver then sends these signals to the retina that travels through the optic nerve to the brain, which can now be interpreted as a visual image. 

The Argus II

The Argus II

This latest advancement helps patients restore some visual capabilities, including recognizing large letters and locating the position of objects. It also gives hope to around a hundred thousand people in America who suffer from the degenerative disease.

The Argus II uses software that can be upgraded as more advancements in the field are discovered. This means that further innovations in image processing technology can be introduced into existing devices through a simple upgrade.