Blind Woman From Hawaii May See Again Thanks To Bionic Eye, Doctors Hopeful

A 72-year-old woman may see again thanks to a bionic eye implant. The woman lost her vision two years ago after suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that left her in complete darkness. The woman underwent a four-hour surgery to implant the bionic eye, and doctors say she will be able to see again once healing is complete.

The Tech Times reports that the woman underwent the surgery at the Eye Surgery Center of Hawaii. The surgery marked the first of its kind in the Asian-Pacific. Dr. Mark Humayan, the inventor of the bionic eye, said that the eye should work well for the patient, as it is specifically designed for patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa. Currently, Humayan says the eye will only work on patients with this genetic disorder. However, he is hoping to soon develop models that can work for other vision issues.

Humayan says the bionic eye took 25 years to develop and can allow a previously blind individual to see up to nine colors. The bionic eye is a two-part system. First, there is the implant that is placed in the eye. Second there is a special set of glasses that capture images and beam them back to the implant for brain processing. The glasses work as a sort of camera for the eye, and the implant processes the information provided by the camera in a way that the brain understands.

“Once the device processes the images, they are transferred to the retina and directed to the optic nerve which passes the information to the brain to identify the image.”

Though the bionic eye is expected to provide amazing results for patients, it comes at a steep price. The bionic eye clocks in with a price tag of around $144,000. The device was approved for use in the United States in 2013 and could be used in both patients who have fully lost sight due to retinitis pigmentosa or those who are in the early stages of vision loss due to the genetic disease.

The New Hampshire Voice notes that it will be two weeks before the eye surgeons know if the implant was fully successful, as that is how long it takes to fully recover from the extensive surgery.

What do you think of the prospect of the blind being able to see again with a special bionic eye implant? Do you think the futuristic technology will drop in price as more people receive the implants?

[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Handout]