Second Sight's Argus II bionic eye is now officially approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after its advisory panel concluded that the benefits of helping cure partial blindness outweighed the possible safety problems, such as post-surgical infections.
The Argus II consists of two parts: an artificial retina with embedded electrodes that's surgically implanted into the eye and a pair of glasses equipped with a camera and visual processor. The video camera captures footage, sends it to the processor and then relays the feed to the bionic eye, thus, allowing the impaired wearer to "see." That said, the Argus II doesn't restore complete vision and only allows people to see just enough light to help them move around. As Pop Sci puts it, "it's like watching TV on a screen with just 60 pixels."
Here's a video showing how the Argus II works:
Like most breakthrough technologies, the Argus II isn't cheap. It'll cost roughly $150,000, which doesn't include the surgery and training, according to The New York Times. It'll also only be available at seven hospitals in fives states, including California, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. Even so, the FDA's approval of the Argus II is a huge step towards finding a solution that may eventually lead to curing blindness.