Bionic Eye Grants New Sight To Blind Mother
Jamie Carley, aged 51, was born with a condition known as retinitis pigmentosa (RP), which is a genetic disease that gravely affects the retina's ability to respond to light. She never had night vision and lost her sight completely at the age of twenty-six when her son was a toddler. She cried when she regained her vision and saw her son's face for the first time in more than twenty years.
A bionic eye received at the UC Health Center at the Unversity of Colorado, the Rocky Mountain region's leading academic medical center, made it all possible for her to wait one month for the right moment to turn the implant on when her son came into view. The instance was bitter-sweet and tears fell unbidden behind her glasses. Her son too was deeply affected by the 'visual reunion' with his mother.
In her own words:
"The first thing I focused on was the window, and I followed the outline around to the left, and thenIgot to see my son for the first time in years. It was different and a pretty amazing experience...Regaining even a little bit of my vision will make a huge difference in my life. Being able to see the edges of doorways, stairs and sidewalks wil make my life much easier, and I'm really looking forward to seeing family members and fireworks again."
What is a bionic eye?
Sometimes known as a visual prosthesis. a bionic eye is intended to restore functional vision in those suffering from partial or total blindness. The idea of electrically stimulating the retina or visual cortex to improve vision is far from new and dates back to the days of Benjamin Franklin. Developed in the 1980s, most of these devices have been modeled on the the cochlear implant or bionic ear devices.
How does the bionic eye work?
Chair of Opthamology and Director of the UC Health Center, Dr. Naresh Mandava, implanted a microchip in Jamie's eye. This marks the first time that the Argus II Retinal Prosthetic System bionic eye implant can offer hope to those who are in the later stages of retinitis pigmentosa. The implant is connected without wires to a special pair of glasses equipped with a camera worn by the patient that first transmits video to the implanted microchip and then sends the image through the optic nerve to the brain.
The future of the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System Bionic Eye
Jamie's rehab has barely begun and she will need time for her brain to learn how to interpret the optical signals it is receiving, but there is hope that her new vision will steadily improve. So far, the bionic eye device has been implanted twice in two centers in the Western United States. The UC Health Eye Center is a national leader of vision-related research and it is certain that other medical centers will follow their lead in restoring vision to those who have lost it with the help of this amazing bionic eye implant.
Do you think that bionic eye implants could forever eliminate the need for glasses and other visual aids?
Closing thoughts o blindness:
We are all more blind to what he have than to what we have not. ~ Audre Lorde