Second Sight Medical, a company out of Sylmar, California, has implanted the first device that may bring vision to people that are completely blind from just about any injury or condition. The company became famous for its revolutionary Argus II retinal prosthesis that bypasses damaged photoreceptors in the eye and stimulates remaining retinal cells that pass information to the brain via the optic nerve. The company’s new Orion I Visual Cortical Prosthesis goes even further by bypassing the optic nerve, along with the entire visual system, and stimulates the brain’s visual cortex directly. This would allow even people who lack any functionality within their eyes to be able to see.
The first patient to receive the experimental Orion I is a thirty year old who is completely blind. Following the implantation of the new device, there was stimulation delivered to the visual cortex that resulted in the patient actually seeing light spots. This is a major achievement and points to the implant being capable of displaying images from the real world. So far the device does not connect to a camera, but that will be relatively easy once the implant is perfected. Second Sight is now working on an application to submit to the FDA early next year to begin a clinical trial of the Orion I, which at that point will include a matching camera and glasses combo.
In the announcement, Dr. Robert Greenberg, Chairman of the Board of Second Sight, said, “It is rare that technological development offers such stirring possibilities. This first human test confirms that we are on the right track with our Orion I program to treat blind patients who cannot benefit from theArgus® II Retinal Prosthesis (Argus II). This initial success in a patient is an exciting and important milestone even though it does not yet include a camera. By bypassing the optic nerve and directly stimulating the visual cortex, the Orion I has the potential to restore useful vision to patients completely blinded due to virtually any reason, including glaucoma, cancer, diabetic retinopathy, or trauma. Today these individuals have no available therapy and the Orion I offers hope, increasing independence and improving their quality of life.”
Via: Second Sight…
Image credit: Second Sight