Check out this amazing story via CBS DC:
A degenerative eye disease slowly robbed Roger Pontz of his vision.
Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager, Pontz has been almost completely blind for years. Now, thanks to a high-tech procedure that involved the surgical implantation of a “bionic eye,” he’s regained enough of his eyesight to catch small glimpses of his wife, grandson and cat.
“It’s awesome. It’s exciting — seeing something new every day,” Pontz said during a recent appointment at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. The 55-year-old former competitive weightlifter and factory worker is one of four people in the U.S. to receive an artificial retina since the Food and Drug Administration signed off on its use last year.
The facility in Ann Arbor has been the site of all four such surgeries since FDA approval. A fifth is scheduled for next month.
Here’s more on exactly how the implant works:
The artificial implant in Pontz’s left eye is part of a system developed by Second Sight that includes a small video camera and transmitter housed in a pair of glasses.
Images from the camera are converted into a series of electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes on the surface of the retina. The pulses stimulate the retina’s remaining healthy cells, causing them to relay the signal to the optic nerve.
The visual information then moves to the brain, where it is translated into patterns of light that can be recognized and interpreted, allowing the patient to regain some visual function.
When wearing the glasses, which Pontz refers to as his “eyes,” he can identify and grab his cat and figure out that a flash of light is his grandson hightailing it to the kitchen.
The most exciting part of this is that we are just barely scratching the surface of this technology. The advances we will make in the next 5-10 years from this point will likely be startling.