Bionic Eyes Help Blind Woman Have Sight for the First Time after 13 Years
Blind for 13 years
Thirteen years, that’s how long a 58 year old woman from Florida had been blind before a revolutionary eye surgery gave her back the ability to see.
Carmen Torres began to lose her sight at the age of 18 as a result of a genetic eye disease known as retinitis pigmentosa. The disease degrades a person’s eyesight over time, and by the time she was 45, her sight was completely gone.
Last November was when the light of hope came her way after a series of consultations with Florida doctors started with the aim of restoring her sight. They performed an operation called Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System on her, which was in fact a first in Florida. Torres said that she was happy and just laughed like crazy after her bionic eye brought her vision again.
Dr. Nina Gregori described the surgery as meticulous, one that required accurate and precise measurements on exactly where to place the retinal implants in the eyes. This she explained in a statement where she also noted how they really took their time on the operation.
The groundbreaking bionic eyes are ingenious and work by translating into electrical signals, video images from a small camera placed in eyeglasses. The signals are then reflected on the tiny retinal implants.
The implants in Torres’s eyes use electrodes to stimulate the healthy retinal cells that remain in her eyes, sending visual information to her optic nerve. The process allows her to see light, shapes and movement.
In the nine months after her surgery, Torres was able to recognize buildings, sidewalks and even the stars at night. But to her, the best gift was the ability she now had of watching her grandson roll a ball across the floor to her, which she catches and rolls back to him as they play together.
Second Sight Medical Products is the company behind the manufacture of these groundbreaking retinal implant systems that were approved by the FDA in 2013. Around that time, the Argus II was going for about $100,000.
In the United States, the prevalence of sightlessness as of 2012 was at 6,670,300 people, including blind women, of all ages. That’s according to the National Federation of the Blind who also noted that women had the highest incidents of visual disability at the ages 16 to 75.