Elias Konstantopoulos of Glen Burnie first noticed that his vision was getting poorer at age 43. He eventually learned that he had an incurable hereditary condition known as retinitis pigmentosa. The disease eats away at the retina’s rods and cones, which help people see light and identify color and detail.
Konstantopolous, now 72, lost his final bit of vision five years ago.
When his doctor asked in 2009 if he would like to join a trial of a technology that might help him regain some visual perception, Konstantopoulos agreed. An electrode array was surgically implanted in his eye, and he was given a pair of glasses equipped with a tiny video camera. The camera captures images and converts them into signals that are fed into the implanted array. The signals are sent to the optic nerve and then to the brain.
Konstantopolous says he can distinguish light-colored objects against dark backgrounds, perceive an automobile passing and orient himself in a room where there is a window or door letting sunlight in from outside.
The $100,000 device, known as the Argus II, is made by a California company called Second Sight. Fourteen are being used in the United States and 16 in Europe.
— Agence France-Presse