Bionic eye helps man with retinitis pigmentosa to see

Retinitis pigmentosa is a hereditary retinal disease that causes a slow, progressive degeneration of the retina. The light sensitive cells at the back of the eye, called rods and cones, are affected which causes peripheral vision to constrict. Often one of the first signs of retinitis pigmentosa is difficulty with night vision, followed by difficulty seeing in the periphery. The peripheral vision eventually shrinks to just tunnel vision, with a small amount of central vision persisting. Most people with retinitits pigmentosa, like Roger Pontz, will eventually be totally blind.

There is no treatment or cure for retinitis pigmentosa in which the retina recovers its original abilities. However, the bionic eye may offer modest improvements. Roger Pontz is one of the first people in the world to have a bionic eye inserted. Images from a small camera, housed in glasses, are transmitted to electrodes on the retina. The pulses transfer signals to the brain, enabling Roger to see lights and objects. This has helped in his ability to get around the house.

If you have any of the above symptoms or a family history of retinitis pigmentosa, a review with a retinal ophthalmologist such as our very own Dr Daniel Polya is essential. The back of the eye will be examined for the characteristic retinal signs, and also formal visual field testing will be performed. 

The bionic eye has recently been in the news, find out more information from the Sydney Morning Herald 

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