Bionic Eye to Restore Sight Offered in Cleveland

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CLEVELAND – Blind people may get a second chance at sight with a bionic eye.

The device, Argus II, is an artificial retina that works with a pair of glasses.

University Hospitals was selected as one of 12 locations that are approved to implant the device in patients.

“It’s incredible,” said Dr. Suber S. Huang, directer of the UH Eye Institute’s Center for Retina and Macular Disease. “It’s the first time where we have the ability to restore vision, even in these advanced cases.”

Developed by Second Sight Medical Products, the Argus II is only able to restore some vision to people with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare inherited disease that affects nearly 100,000 people nationwide.

The bionic eye works like a wireless device. The glasses essentially record an image, which is transmitted to the retina implant. The implant enables a person to see.

“Some individuals have even been able to see large letters,” Huang said. “One letter, two letters, even short words.”

However, Huang said the implant is not for everyone.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Argus II implants for patients with extreme cases of retina pigmentosa.

Cleveland Sight Center will partner with University Hospitals to help treat and rehabilitate patients. CEO and President Steven Freidman said the treatment will vastly improve the life of visually impaired people and their caregivers.

“They can now see faces. They can see movement. They can participate in everyday living in a way they hadn’t before,” he said. “We’ll be able to bring our expertise and couple it and complement what surgeons are able to do at University Hospitals.”

Implant surgery and therapy are expected to cost about $150,000.

Other cities approved for the implant include Ann Arbor, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Durham, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Patients wishing for more information should contact Second Sight Medical Products at (855) 756-3703 or via e-mail at patients@2-sight.com.