When USC Roski Eye Institute patient Terry Byland fully lost his sight to retinitis pigmentosa at age 45, he never could have imagined what his future had in store. Byland recently became the first person in the world to have to retinal prostheses implanted – one in each eye – restoring some sight and much-needed independence.
“I just can’t get over what I can see, and all the things I’ve seen so far,” Byland said.
The 66-year-old Riverside resident began his journey toward regaining his sight when he participated in a clinical trial for the original retinal prostheses, the Argus I, between 2004 and 2010. The 16-electrode artificial retina was implanted in his right eye on June 23, 2004.
Participating in the initial trial gave Byland new purpose after struggling with not only retiring early and giving up the job he loved, but also losing out on getting to watch his children grow up.
“Terry is a true pioneer,” said Mark Humayun, M.D., Ph.D., co-inventor of the device, who holds joint appointments at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “His work with the first-generation implant helped our team develop the FDA-approved Argus II. For him to enjoy the benefit of this smaller, better device is gratifying.”
On June 22, 2015, Byland received the new 60-electrode Argus II implant by Lisa Olmos de Koo, M.D. at the USC Roski Eye Institute. The Argus II is equipped with software that can be updated as new image processing technology becomes available, allowing Byland to have new features introduced to continually improve his sight.
Combining Medicine and Engineering
The Argus II is revolutionary in that it helps patients identify large letters as well as locate objects using a small video camera, which is mounted to a pair of eyeglasses. The video processing unit then transforms the images picked up by the camera into electronic signals that are wirelessly transmitted to the implant. The prosthesis stimulates visual neurons that send the signals through the optic nerve to the brain, which are interpreted as a visual image.
“The prosthesis allows more independence. And the more independent you are, the happier you are,” said Byland.
The Argus II is the groundbreaking success of a close collaboration between USC Roski Eye Institute, Keck School of Medicine of USC, and USC Viterbi School of Engineering. The device is designed to help patients who have suffered blindness as a result of an inherited retinal degenerative disease called retinitis pigmentosa.
Contact an Innovative Ophthalmology Team
The Argus II is available to qualifying patients at the Keck Medical Center of USC. It is important to receive a thorough eye exam from a professional optometrist or ophthalmologist to catch vision problems and get effective treatment. Please do not wait to make an appointment with a skilled ophthalmologist at USC Roski Eye Institute for a comprehensive eye exam using the most state-of-the-art technology available.
Help support our research and innovation by making a tax-deductible gift by contacting Rebecca Melville, senior director of development, at 323.442.5396 or via email at Rebecca.Melville@med.usc.edu today!