Sudden surge in bionic eye market was experienced recently after the National Health Service (NHS) announced the sponsorship to implant bionic eyes in ten patients. The bionic eye can help regain vision in individuals with visual impairment. Although currently two bionic eye systems has received regulatory approvals, other companies in the bionic eye market are also trying to develop new technology that can help in regaining visual sense in patients.
The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System developed by Second Sight consists of a miniature camera mounted on patient’s glasses. This camera is connected to a video processing unit (VPU) which processes the information. This information is transmitted wirelessly to a retinal implant that helps in visualizing objects. The company claims that the implant helps in resorting vision to an extent that the patient can identify shapes. The company also plans to upgrade the current version to improve vision quality. The device had received regulatory clearance in 2013 to address adult patients with advanced retinitis pigmentosa (RP), rare genetic eye disease. Pixium Vision was awarded CE market for its IRIS II bionic vision system in 2016. The company recently completed its first implantation and activation of IRIS II in Spain. Bionic eye market comprises only these two systems that have received regulatory approval, while other products in pipeline would need more incubation for development.
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Boston Retinal Implant Project (BRIP), an organization based in the U.S. is developing retinal prosthesis to enhance visibility. Monash University, Australia is also conducting research on development of bionic eye systems that can enable visual sense at some level to individuals who are completely deprived of eyes. Such research and development would introduce more refined products in the bionic eye market. Although currently research in bionic eye market is in a nascent stage, advances in nanotechnology and deeper understanding of human diseases would reveal new ground for further research.
It is estimated that over 1 million individuals globally of which more than 0.3 million individuals in North America and Europe suffer from Retinitis Pigmentosa. Blindness is also a major concern with over 285 million individuals being visually impaired globally. The reasons for blindness are varied ranging from rare genetic diseases to life style diseases such as diabetes. Cataract affects more than 20 million people, and is responsible for 50% of the global visionless population. According to American Academy of Ophthalmology, U.S., cataract affects more than 22 million people with age 40 years and above. It is also estimated that over 3 million individuals in the U.S. suffer from glaucoma, while 50% of these cases are diagnosed only in later stages. Such high prevalence and ageing population which is a major predisposing factor for diseases leading to vision loss would drive the bionic eye market.
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