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Michigan Man Among First to Get Bionic Eye

Roger Pontz, of Reed City, was diagnosed with the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager- a disease that slowly robbed him of his vision. He has been completely blind for several years.

Now 55, Pontz is one of four people in the U.S. to receive a bionic eye.

The bionic eye that Pontz has received is actually an artificial retina, developed by the company Second Sight, which also 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 to electrodes on the surface of the retina. The pulses then stimulate the retina’s remaining cells, relaying the signal to the optic nerve. The signal then moves to the brain, where it’s transformed into patterns of light and images that become recognizable to the wearer.

The procedure was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late last year, but has already been performed several dozen times in Europe.

Pontz received his bionic eye at the University of Michigan– one of 12 centers in the U.S. that offers the procedure.

For all the crazy technology we have out there, it’s nice to see it put to good use once in a while!


Check out how the artificial retina works below.

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