Bionic eye transplant proves to be a success: what does that mean for surgical technology?
Written by Alyssa Clark
The University of Michigan’s Health System surgeons have successfully made the first FDA-approved “bionic eye” transplants; not only does this new technology allow patients with degenerative eye disease to see again, but they are reinstated with a range of normal vision capabilities like making out lights and shapes. The Michigan Daily reported, “on January 16th and 22nd, two surgeons successfully implanted the Argus II artificial retina, which is composed of a sheet of electrodes fixed to the eye. The implant is paired with a pair of camera-equipped glasses and a processor that captures video from the glasses. That video is then sent as a series of pulses to the electrodes, stimulating the patient's remaining nerve fibers.”
The eye had already been tested by approximately 50 people worldwide when it was finally approved by the FDA early on in 2013. Second Sight, Argus’s developer has designated 12 centers including UMHS to conduct the procedure on a wider range of patients.
The Argus II does not give the patients full, normal range of vision; however, it gives the patient the ability to access normal vision responses, like seeing flashes of light and being able to learn/read visual patterns. Two of the surgeons who conducted the implant have already begun to discuss the future of the technology, and the impact it is set to have on the medical technology market.
“That process of learning takes between one to three months”, says Thiran Jayasundera, one of the surgeons who transplanted the retina. “It's far from perfect, but it restores some sight to people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary condition that causes degraded sight and, ultimately, blindness. It's possible to slow the condition's progress, but something like the Argus II is needed to actually restore vision.”
The verge has reported that, “In Europe, officials have also approved a second artificial retina: the higher-resolution Alpha IMS, which requires no glasses and allows more freedom of movement, since users can simply look around instead of turning their head to capture video. A pre-approval pilot program saw the Alpha IMS successfully implanted in eight patients and unsuccessfully implanted in one.”
Jvion launches AI-powered map to tackle mental health crisis
Clinical AI company Jvion has launched an interactive map of the US that highlights areas that are most vulnerable to poor mental health.
The Behavioral Health Vulnerability Map uses Jvion's AI CORE™ software to analyse public data on social determinants of health (SDOH) and determine the vulnerability of every US Census block group.
Vulnerability refers to the likelihood that residents will experience issues like self-harm, suicide attempts or overdoses. The map also identifies the most influential social determinants in each region, to show the social and environmental conditions that contribute to mental illness.
As an example, the map shows that Harrison County in Mississippi has a 50% higher suicide rate than the rest of the state. It also shows a high percentage of individuals in the armed forces at a time when active duty suicides are at a six-year high, along with a high prevalence of coronary artery disease, arthritis, and COPD, all chronic illnesses that are linked to a higher suicide risk.
The map also shows Harrison County has a high percentage of Vietnamese Americans, who studies suggest have high rates of depression and may be less likely to seek help from mental health professionals.
The map was built using the same data and analytics that Jvion used to create the COVID Community Vulnerability Map, which was launched towards the start of the pandemic.
With this new map, Jvion is aiming to tackle the growing mental health crisis in the US. “At a time when so many Americans are struggling with their mental health, we’re proud to offer a tool that can help direct treatment resources to the communities that need it most,” said Dr John Showalter, MD, Jvion’s chief product officer, who led the development of the map.
“For too long, the healthcare industry has struggled to address social determinants of health, particularly in the context of behavioural health. Our hope is that by surfacing the social and environmental vulnerabilities of America’s communities, we can better coordinate our response to the underlying conditions that impact the health and wellbeing of people everywhere.”