Second Sight’s Argus II
The Argus II works by converting images captured by a miniature video camera mounted on the patient’s glasses into a series of small electrical pulses, which are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes implanted on the surface of the retina. These pulses stimulate the retina’s remaining cells, intending to result in the perception of patterns of light in the brain. The patient must learn to interpret these visual patterns, having the potential to regain some visual function.
“When I started to go blind I didn’t want to live anymore. Now I have hope.“
Jeroen Perk, 39, works for the Netherlands’ Customs & Excise. He is totally blind due to the genetic disease Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) diagnosed at the age of 11.
Jeroen was the second person in the Netherlands to be implanted with the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, also known as “the bionic eye”. The surgery, by Dr Marco Mura, took place in June 2013.
Since then, Jeroen has been using Argus II to help him navigate outdoors, in social situations such a rock concerts and when eating out, and has even been able to repeatedly hit the bullseye on an archery target.
Jeroen also enjoys using the system when he’s out socializing in clubs and restaurants with his wife, Nanda.
“Argus II helps me to be more confident generally in life. With the system, it is much easier for me to get around outside because I can know where obstacles and road crossings are.
“Socially, if I go into a restaurant, I can perceive whether there is someone already sitting at a table, and the shape and size of that person.
“I can chat to them, if I want.
“when I go to pop concerts and clubs, I enjoy the light shows. On holiday in Norway, it was great to see the contours of the mountains. Also I loved seeing the very high dramatic waterfalls. I saw them quite clearly.
“Life is beautiful when you make the most of it. Now, I am happy.”
The Argus II System employs electrical stimulation to bypass defunct cells and stimulate remaining viable retinal cells inducing visual perception in blind individuals.
Globally, 75 Argus II surgeries took place in 2017 alone. For more information about Argus II and the NHS, please call UK freephone 0800 520 0925.