The new device, which allows the blind to detect light and dark, was approved for use last Thursday, reports Time. It implants electrodes into the eye and uses a small camera mounted on glasses to detect light.
The device is called the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis and has been approved for those over 25 who suffer from a rare type of blindness called retinitis pigmentosa. The disorder causes the cells that convert light into imagery to lose effectiveness. Those afflicted start by losing their peripheral vision, then their low-light vision and eventually all ability to see. About one person in 4,000 gets the disorder.
The company that makes the device, Second Sight Medicial Products, hopes to eventually apply the technique to more common disorders such as macular degeneration. That might be possible by implanting electrodes directly into the visual cortex inside the brain.