First bionic eye surgeries happen in Michigan

10:04 PM, Feb 2, 2014   |    comments
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Ann Arbor, Mich. (WZZM) - It sounds like science fiction, but the first surgeries to implant a type of bionic eye into patients have happened here in Michigan.

Surgeons at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center performed the surgeries in January.

The F-D-A approved the 'Argus Retinal Prosthesis system' last year.

The device can help people with late stage Retinitis Pigmentosa, a condition that causes vision loss.

The device is implanted in one eye. The patient wears glasses with a camera that converts images into electrical pulses that go to the retina.

It won't completely restore a person's vision, but it's giving people who can't see some hope.

"It is expected that they will be able to see objects, or lights in front of them," said Dr. Thiran Jayasundera, a surgeon at the Kellogg Eye Center.

"I so desperately want to see my grandchildren," said Linda Schulte, the first patient to receive the surgery.  "I won't be able to distinguish their faces, but I understand I will be able to see objects, see figures, see my grandchildren run across the yard. That just means a lot to me."

Doctors won't activate the bionic eye until the patients have recovered from surgery.

After that, they will go through training to adapt to the new vision. That can take up to three months.

The Kellogg Eye Center is one of 12 facilities offering the new surgery.

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