The new device uses a tiny video camera attached to eyeglasses that transmits images to a sheet of electrode sensors that have been sewn into the patient's eye. These sensors then transmit those signals to the brain via the optic nerve. The device helps replace the damaged cells of the retina and helps patients see images or detect movement.
"It's a start, it's a beginning," said Dr. Mark Fromer, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "It's going to be exciting for people who get this device who are currently just seeing light or dark, [they] will see shapes and that will be life-altering for them."
An FDA official was similarly enthused.
"For many of the approximately 1,300 individuals who will develop the disease this year, this technology may change their lives," Dr. William Maisel, deputy director for science and chief scientist at FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in an agency blog post. "It's the difference between night and day," he added.
Maisel's post also included testimony from people who had tested the device and spoke in favor of its approval at a recent FDA hearing: