A bionic eye implant has allowed a Colorado woman to regain her sight after more than 2 decades spent in utter darkness.
51-year old Jamie Carley from Johnstown, Colorado was diagnosed right after her birth with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease triggered by genetic mutations.
This disorder severely damages the retina’s rod cells, whose purpose is to transform images received as photons into signals that can be processed by the brain.
As Carley explains, due to her retinitis pigmentosa, she was never able to see in the dark, given that rod cells are essential in ensuring night vision due to their sensitivity to low light.
What was even more troubling however was that gradually her peripheral vision and her capacity of seeing during the day also deteriorated, to the point where by the time she turned 26 she had become virtually blind. Her son was just 4 years old back then, and she hadn’t been able to gaze at him ever since.
However, those distressing times came to an end after she received a bionic eye implant, on November 2, at the UCHealth Eye Center, affiliated with the University of Colorado.
The equipment, known as the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, was integrated into the retina of the patient’s right eye during a 5-hour-long medical procedure led by Dr. Naresh Mandava.
The microchip is linked to a set of glasses and a camera that the woman must wear as headpiece at all times. The camera basically captures visual stimuli and passes them to a video processor.
From there, they are directed to the implant, whose 60 electrodes have the role of converting the signals into electrical impulses that reach the central nervous system.
Carley was required to wait a month before she was allowed to switch her bionic eye into function. Last week, she got the chance to test the device for the very first time, and she was overwhelmed with emotion when she was able to see her son again.
Tears of joy soon followed, and even the woman’s 29-year old son shed a few, although he was reluctant to acknowledge them.
While it can’t be said that the woman’s sight is completely restored, she is still able to see much more than she managed in the last 2 decades.
Apparently, now she is capable of distinguishing the contours of various objects and people, and thanks to the implant her eyes can also distinguish between darkness and light.
At the moment, she can perceive the world around her without being able to identify colors, forming images just in grayscale (black and white).
Nevertheless, as Carley explained, even the fact that she can finally be able to notice the shape of a car or other trivial sights that most people take for granted is nothing short of extraordinary for her.
What is more, doctors believe that with the passage of time, the woman’s vision will gradually get more and more potent and reliable, as her brain becomes more accustomed with the newly implanted device and more adept at processing and interpreting stimuli.
Image Source: KDVR