The Argus II retinal implant, also known as the "bionic eye," may reportedly help people who have retinitis pigmentosa (RP), an inherited condition in which light-detecting cells in the retina deteriorate, causing a gradual loss in vision (video below).
The bionic eye stimulates the retina with longer electrical impulses than earlier implants, allowing for an improvement in image sharpness, according to the University of Southern California (USC).
Ophthalmologists and engineers at the university developed the bionic eye, and their research was published in "Science Translational Medicine" on Dec. 16.
The new implant proved effective in at least one experiment on a patient with RP, Mirror.co.uk notes.
Andrew Weitz, Ph.D., an assistant professor of research ophthalmology at USC, wrote on the school's website:
"This is a huge step forward in helping restore sight for people with retinitis pigmentosa. Being able to create focused spots of light is important. Think of each light spot as a pixel in an image. By arranging many light spots into the shape of an object, we can generate sharp images of that object.
"For those of us who wear glasses, imagine the difference between trying to read a distant neon sign with and without your glasses on.
"For people with retinal implants, being able to see more clearly should have a big impact on their ability to recognize objects and navigate their environments. These improvements in vision can really boost a person’s sense of independence and confidence."