- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2013

U.S. regulators approved on Friday the use of a what’s being called a “bionic eye,” giving hope to those with a rare genetic disease that leads to gradual vision loss.

The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, developed by Second Sight Medical Products, Inc., is a first-of-its-kind retinal implant to treat those with advanced retinitis pigmentosa, or RP.

“While the [device] will not restore vision to patients, it may allow them to detect light and dark in the environment, aiding them in identifying the location or movement of objects or people,” the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement announcing approval of the technology.

The device, which is surgically implanted, includes a small camera with transmitter, both mounted on a pair of glasses the user wears. It also contains a video processing unit and retinal prosthesis that serves as the replacement for the cells that have degenerated in the retina.

It’s already been approved in Europe, Agence France-Presse reports.

“The device may help adults with RP who have lost the ability to perceive shapes and movement to be more mobile and to perform day-to-day activities,” said Jeffrey Shuren, director of FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

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