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Hawaiian Woman Receives Bionic Eye Implant to Restore Vision

Posted on September 16, 2015 by Disability Help Group

The Eye Surgery Center of Hawaii recently became the first center in the Asia-Pacific region to implant a bionic eye and restore partial vision to a patient with retinal blindness. The eye implant system, the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System is approved in the United States and the European Economic Area.

The implant works as a system with the ocular hardware installed around the eye and augmentation glasses providing a mount for the camera and transmission antenna. A small processor pack that the patient wears at the hip powers and controls the system.

The Eye Surgery Center of Hawaii is one of two facilities in the western U.S. to perform this procedure. The University of Southern California is the other. There are already several more bionic implants scheduled at the facility, which is home to 18 eye surgeons. As this technology becomes more widely used, more facilities may begin offering these life-changing augmentations.

The system works for people with complete or near-complete retinal blindness. These people are often completely disabled due to their vision loss and may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits beyond the standard rates. A person diagnosed with total blindness or low vision may still collect benefits when working if his or her income does not pass a threshold higher than non-blind disabled workers ($1,820 vs. $1,090 in 2015).