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FDA approves prosthetic for the visually impaired

This week the FDA gave its approval to the first retinal prosthesis aimed at restoring partial sight to those suffering from certain types of blindness. The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System requires surgical implantation and requires the user to wear a special set of video glasses.

Through the use of clinical trials, the manufacturer was able to demonstrate that completely blind individuals were able to successfully identify the approximate size and position of objects and to detect movement of objects and people. Some users are reportedly also able to identify large letters and numbers.

The video processing unit is able to transform images captured by the video camera into electronic data that is then wirelessly transmitted to the prosthetic device implanted inside the eye. Those pulses then travel through the optic nerve into the brain where the brain perceives the patterns of light and dark spots corresponding to the electrodes stimulated.
The system is designed to treat people who suffer from retinitis pigmentosa, which is a genetic condition where the light-sensitive cells in the retina degenerate to the point of being non-functional. The condition affects about one out of 4,000 people in the United States.

The FDA says, "In a healthy eye, these cells change light rays into electrical impulses and send them through the optic nerve to the area of the brain that assembles the impulses into an image. In people with retinitis pigmentosa, the light-sensitive cells slowly degenerate resulting in gradual loss of side vision and night vision, and later of central vision. The condition can lead to blindness."

The Argus II system is far from cheap with costs for the system estimated at $150,000 not counting surgery and training.

Sources: NetworkWorld, Artificial Retina Project

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RE: Tough luck for anyone but the super rich
By ppardee on 2/15/2013 2:58:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, not much you can do with innovation when socialism takes hold.

BUT almost all technology starts out as being ridiculously expensive. Take solid state hard drives as an example. Dell released a super computer with two 16 GB solid state hard drives and a custom airbrushed case about 8 or 9 years ago and it was $10,000. Now, you can get them for only slightly more than a magnetic drive. You're not getting 2 TB, but you'll get more than enough for an average person's use.

We'll probably see these get less expensive and more sophisticated over the years. I still doubt Obamacare will cover it since it isn't medically necessary ("Will this save us money in the long run?" No. "If you don't get this, will the people revolt and depose us?" No. "Do you make giant contributions to our re-election campaign?" No. "Did I get drunk and drive my car off a bridge, drowning one of your relatives?" Not that I know of. "Then why should we spend money on you?")

By kaalus on 2/15/2013 4:44:40 PM , Rating: 2
Well, they will become cheap unless socialist government starts subsidizing this particular model for the patients and so removing all competition.

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