Popular Science has named the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis its invention of the year.
Each year, the editors of this science magazine review thousands of products in search of the top innovations of the year— technologies that represent a significant leap in their categories. The Argus II took the top honor in the Health category, and was deemed the invention of the year for 2013. The list of 100 top innovations in published in the December issue of the magazine.
The Argus II System is a treatment for severe vision loss due to retinitis pigmentosa and related conditions. It is intended for people with minimal light perception. It works by converting video images captured by a miniature camera housed in the patient’s glasses into a series of small electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes on the surface of the retina. These pulses are intended to stimulate the retina’s remaining cells, resulting in the corresponding perception of patterns of light in the brain. The patient then learns to interpret these visual patterns, regaining some visual function. Although the Argus II cannot restore normal vision, clinical trials to-date suggest that it can help people with very little vision better navigate in a visual environment.
The Argus II received FDA approval in the United States earlier this year, and the manufacturer, Second Sight, hopes to launch the product for use outside of clinical trials in the USA in the next few months. In Canada, Second Sight is beginning the process of applying for approval. A trial of the device is also being planned in Toronto and will likely be announced early in 2014. Dr. Wai-Ching Lam talked about the Argus II at our London Vision Quest event this year.