The Argus II design consists of an external video camera system matched to the implanted retinal stimulator, which contains a microelectrode array that spans 20 degrees of visual field. The NSF BMES ERC has developed a prototype system with an array of more than 15 times as many electrodes and an ultra-miniature video camera that can be implanted in the eye. However, this prototype is many years away from being available for patient use.
"The external camera system-built into a pair of glasses-streams video to a belt-worn computer, which converts the video into stimulus commands for the implant," says Weiland. "The belt-worn computer encodes the commands into a wireless signal that is transmitted to the implant, which has the necessary electronics to receive and decode both wireless power and data. Based on those data, the implant stimulates the retina with small electrical pulses. The electronics are hermetically packaged and the electrical stimulus is delivered to the retina via a microelectrode array."
In 1998, Robert Greenberg founded Second Sight to develop the technology for the marketplace. While under development, the Argus I and Argus II systems have won wide recognition, including a 2010 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award and a 2009 R&D 100 Award, but it is only with FDA approval that the technology can now be made available to patients.
"An artificial retina can offer hope to those with retinitis pigmentosa, as it may help them achieve a level of visual perception that enhances their quality of life, enabling them to perform functions of daily living more easily and the chance to enjoy simple plea
|Contact: Joshua A. Chamot|
National Science Foundation