A camera system transmits images to the prosthesis.

The Bionic Eye

Retinal implant restores partial vision and mobility

issue 19 | Fall 2013

Physicians now have something to offer patients with end-stage retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a degenerative eye disease that causes slow but progressive vision loss and, ultimately, blindness. The U-M Kellogg Eye Center is one of 13 centers nationwide to offer the ArgusĀ® II Retinal Prosthesis System, an FDA-approved retinal implant that allows patients to perceive light and shapes.

The device is an epiretinal (on the inner retinal surface) prosthesis surgically implanted in one eye. After surgery, the patient wears glasses equipped with a camera system that transmits images to the prosthesis, which uses electrodes to relay images to the optic nerve and on to the brain.

"This is a breakthrough for patients with advanced RP," says Kellogg retina surgeon Thiran Jayasundera, M.D. "The implant will bring light back into these patients' worlds, allowing them to detect shapes of people and objects in their environment."