'Bionic eye' helps man with degenerative eye disease see again
Roger Pontz saw his wife for the first time following the surgery
A man who lost his vision to a degenerative eye disease has regained some of his sight with the help of a high-tech “bionic eye,” in a procedure that experts have called a “game-changer.”
55-year-old Roger Pontz was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager, and has been completely blind for years.
Since doctors operated on Mr Pontz and implanted an artificial retina into his left eye, he has regained enough of his eyesight to see his friends and family for the first time – including his wife.
The former competitive weightlifter and factory worker is one of four people in the US to receive the treatment at a facility in Ann Arbor, since the Food and Drug Administration rubber-stamped its use last year.
Dr. Thiran Jayasundera, one of two physicians who performed the 4.5-hour surgery on Mr Pontz, has called the surgery a “game-changer.”
"It's awesome. It's exciting — seeing something new every day,” Mr Pontz told reporters at a recent appointment at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center.
“I can walk through the house with ease. If that's all I get out of this, it'd be great,” he added.
Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited disease that causes slow but progressive vision loss due to a gradual loss of the light-sensitive retinal cells called rods and cones. Patients experience loss of side vision and night vision, then central vision, which can result in near blindness.
While Mr Pontz’s treatment was successful, not all of the 100,000 people in the US who suffer from the disease can be helped by an artificial retina.
Candidates must be 25 or older with end-stage retinitis pigmentosa that has progressed to the point of having "bare light" or no light perception in both eyes.
An estimated 10,000 have vision low enough, said Dr. Brian Mech, an executive with Second Sight Medical Products Inc., the Sylmar, California-based company that makes the device. Of those, about 7,500 are eligible for the surgery.
In this April 16, 2014 image from video Dr. Thiran Jayasundera, left, looks at Roger Pontzís left eye as Pontzís wife, Terri Pontz, right, looks on at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center on April 16, 2014, in Ann Arbor, Mich. The artificial implant that currently resides in Pontzís left eye is called the Argus II, and is part of the system developed by a California company that includes a small video camera and transmitter housed in a pair of glasses.†Images from the camera are converted into a series of electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes on the surface of the retina.
The artificial retina procedure has been performed several-dozen times over the past few years in Europe, and the expectation is that it will find similar success in the US, where the University of Michigan is one of 12 centres accepting consultations for patients.
The implant uses a small video camera and transmitter housed in a pair of glasses which captures images.
These are converted into a series of electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes on the surface of the retina. The pulses stimulate the retina's remaining healthy cells, causing them to relay the signal to the optic nerve.
The visual information then moves to the brain, where it is translated into patterns of light that can be recognized and interpreted, allowing the patient to regain some visual function.
Additional reporting by AP
- 2 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 3 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
Nepal earthquake: More than 1,100 killed across four countries and in Mount Everest avalanche
Nepal earthquake: The race is on to help thousands trapped under rubble around Kathmandu, while remote villages face a long wait for help
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...