Bionic eye helps the blind to see

By KBJR News 1

April 24, 2014 Updated Apr 24, 2014 at 11:40 AM CDT

Ann Arbor, MI (NBCNC) --- Patients who were once completely blind now say they can make out shapes and shadows. Last year the Food and Drug Administration approved the first ever, in effect, bionic eye – and now patients are starting to share their experience with the device.

So far four patients in the U.S. have had an artificial retina implanted, and all the surgeries have been at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center.

The artificial retina relies on a small camera embedded in a pair of glasses to transmit images. Those images are converted into a series of codes that the device uses to activate healthy cells in the eye – eventually leading to some visual function.

Not all patients who are blind are eligible for the procedure. The patients who have had it implanted have retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease.