Amazing how medicine in this era is just becoming so advanced. When you are in a hospital room, you would notice right away all the machines they have and would have ready in any case. Particularly I came across an article on CBS News stating that a blind man sees for the first time. I thought that it was just some miracle, but it was actually possible with the help of a prosthetic eye! Well, actually it was more like a few implants placed in the eye that would send a signal to these camera glasses and sent the signal back to the brain to allow him to see.
Not going to lie, I didn’t want to believe it at first, but it definitely exists. It actually has been around for a while. Argus II a.k.a. the bionic eye was created in Australia 2011 and was accepted by FDA in February 2013 for people with rare degenerative eye diseases. Of course with the coming of something new, anything after the first should be better than the last one right? Let’s hope so.
At this moment the bionic eye provides a pixelated type of vision. The patient has to determine what the flashes of light are. Argus II allows them to be able to see where a door or window may be, based on the light they are able to see and make out the shape. This is a great thing to have for the blind to be able to at least navigate a little on their own. It would be really nice though if in the future the Bionic Eye can help actually see things like our normal vision. Of course that would take some time and many trial and errors.
I am very hopeful in the innovations that are going to be made to Argus II. I believe that the Bionic Eye should try to be more reliable, refined, and available to all the blind, not just a certain group. According to BBC they had news that Argus II stopped working for a man after only in use for one year. I just don’t like the idea that the Bionic Eye was prepared to be placed in someone’s eye but within a year it just stopped working. I personally would be furious if I spent all my time in all these trials and experiments, was given hope, and then let down because of something that may have been just a temporary thing. I can understand that this is still fairly new and without a doubt updates will be made to it, but for me the reliability is big.
I am also wanting to see a change in the quality of vision. Instead of having just a pixelated view with light, there should be a little more definition in shapes. I do not expect it to be HD camera quality but maybe be able to see the shapes of things and distinguish them.
Vision quality of course is on the top of biomechanics and ophthalmologists’ list. In the Extreme Tech blog the article The First-real, High-resolution, User-configurable Bionic Eye, it talks about the many things the Bionic Eye can do now. On the other hand it also explains how it overwhelms the brain. The new signals from Argus II are seen as foreign and the brain is trying to determine whether it should accept these signals or just reject them. The signals, though, can be controlled with the light dial on the patients head above the ear. I think that the future updates should try to find a way to lower the amount of signals being sent to the brain. Nothing this high tech should be causing more harm than good. I understand that this is only the beginning but hopefully the scientists see the flaws that I see and are taking into consideration what other scientists have found.
So anything after Argus II should be better. Safety and quality are always the most important traits in any medical device. The main concerns so far are the signals and durability. For the upcoming updates signal control would be great. Overwhelming the brain doesn’t sound healthy what so ever. If the prosthesis can last a long time and are eligible for updates here and there to secure its quality in durability would make Argus II so much more reliable. Argus II was created to help the blind, but it shouldn’t give them false hope. It must live up to what it is said to do. Yea, so far the patients can only see figures but it’s a huge step in the right direction. Upcoming innovations are definitely watched because of the partial success that Argus II had. Anything after is coming with tremendous updates, or so is hoped.
If the updates included a few things that I mentioned should be fixed, I think that Argus II would be a little more successful and more known. Truly the Bionic Eye is an amazing invention, but of course I am pretty picky as to what each new invention should look like. Don’t get me wrong, I am no bio-mechanic nor scientist, but I do understand what people might expect from a gadget of this level. If our phones are so high tech then something as important as sight should be at the top of its game. This new creation is the beginning of a new life for so many! So it really should be focused on more and tested many times before releasing it to other patients.
In this fast moving world and technology heavy lifestyle this isn’t the first of its kind that we are going to see. Personally, seeing a device like this gives me hope in helping people but it also creates a sense of fear. If we have technology that allows people to regain their sight, what’s next?
Anthony, Sebastian. “The First-real, High-resolution, User-configurable Bionic Eye.” ExtremeTech. Ziff Davis, LLC.PCMag Digital Group, 22 Feb.
2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.
Firger, Jessica. “Blind Man Sees for First Time with “bionic Eye”” CBS News. CBS Interactive Inc, 15 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.
Herrmann, Steve. “Bionic-eye Implant Fails after Year.” BBC News. BBC, 4 Apr. 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2015.