Long in development, the Argus is a device that allows the blind to see once more. But the world which Argus brings to light is very different from the one the rest of us see. “You have to learn to see again, but people who have this implant were people that used to see,” says Dean Lloyd, one of the few patients thus far to receive the Argus.
The world of an Argus-equipped individual such as Lloyd is one of black and white lines and hazy points of contrast. With training, these visual markers can be read like a road map of a person's surroundings.
Argus isn't just a pair of sunglasses. Here's how they work: A camera mounted on the sunglasses sends visual data to a processor, which converts the video into patterns of electrical activity. This electrical activity is then sent to an array of electrodes housed inside the eye. By sending out tiny electrical impulses, these electrodes directly stimulate portions of the eye, creating visual information once again.
The Argus, sadly, won't work for all types of blindness. If the nerves which it stimulates are damaged or dead, then the system is incapable of sending a patient visual data. That being said, those patients who can receive Argus will be be able to see once again. That's a wonderful thing, regardless of what limitations the device might have. After a decade of research and testing, the Argus is available now at select hospital institutions.