Lidia Lopez knew from a young age that she had a degenerative eye disease that would cause her eyesight to deteriorate over time. By the time she was 50 years old, her vision was completely gone. At 61 years old in 2018, Lidia was living in total darkness.
However, new technology is bringing some light back into Lopez’s life.
Lopez was the recipient of Houston’s first Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, a retinal implant commonly referred to as the “bionic eye.” After implantation of the Argus II, a small camera in Lopez’s glasses captures video that is passed through a small computer that she wears. The computer and glasses work together to send a wireless signal to an antenna in the implant. This allows Lopez to perceive patterns of light, enabling her to see again for the first time in over a decade.
The device was implanted by Dr. Amir Mohsenin and Dr. Garvin Davis, both ophthalmologists affiliated with Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and assistant professors of Ophthalmology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and the Robert Cizik Eye Clinic.
“Due to their impaired vision, these patients are very dependent on their family members or others for basic needs. A device like this can completely change a patient’s life,” said Dr. Mohsenin. “Just being able to navigate rooms and knowing if the light is on or off are big steps for patients who have been completely blind for a number of years.”
The Argus II was successfully implanted on January 11, 2018. After a month-long recovery, Lopez returned to the clinic on February 12 to have the device activated.
The instant that Lopez’s device was activated, a huge smile spread across her face. She panned her head side-to-side, trying to take it all in. According to the physicians, it’s still new to Lopez and she has to spend some time getting used to the device.
“We are the only approved center in Texas and the surrounding states to implant the Argus II,” said Dr. Davis. “It’s exciting to be able to give some someone like Mrs. Lopez a bit of her independence back. We are planning to implant about four to five of these devices each year moving forward.”
Watch how Lopez reacts when her bionic eye is activated.
Suzanne Dorshaw RN MDACC says
So proud of you Dr Davis. Keep up the good work
Virginia Preusser says
My mother needs this !
Wonderful news!! Hopefully this will be available and affordable to more than four or five people a year!
But thank you for giving us, losing our sight , hope we won’t have to endure blindness .
Thank you surgeons and all for giving sight again to this woman!
Johanna vanAsseldonk says
How wonderfull for Lidia Lopez and for every boddy who’s getting the same treatment. Happy times at last
Great, at what price.?
My mother need this.
Vincent Dakotah Langley says
Margie Becker, because you now have sight in only one eye, unfortunately, you do not any longer have depth perception. My long-time room-mate (of 35 years now) is in this same boat, as she is totally blind in one eye, due to a totally-detached retina in one of her eyes. I understand for you as a visually-impaired/blind person in this life! I hope and pray for you, as well, that, one bright and sunny day really quite soon now that technology and the health sciences (medical) specialty field of ophthalmology will bring sight back to your blind eye! …Since (human) vision in a fully-sighted person is — visually-speaking, of course — of the “stereo effect” (this is to say that, we human-beings anatomically have two eyes instead of just one eye, for example, simply because, when one of us is looking at a particular object or visual scene, the person’s dominant eye transmits that visual image to the brain in one instant, while the other eye transmits that same visual image to the brain in just a minute, split-second later period of time than when the dominant eye does this), this “stereo effect” of fully-sighted human vision is the anatomical reason why we human-beings can judge distance from ourselves to a particular object or visual scene that is at some distance from us. A person with sight in just one eye, therefore — I am going to use my long-time room-mate here for an example of what I am saying to you here now — does not have that physiological ability in this life to judge distance to or from objects or visual scenes, because they lack that depth perception. …My long-time room-mate, for this one reason, alone, when she is walking about, is always running into things — which, I will also add here, of course, as well, that this simply IS NOT her fault, at all!
This is off the subject perhaps just a bit, however, anyway, one of the things that I have done in my life (I am a fully-sighted person, by the way) is that I was a Braille Transcriber — that is to say, I transcribed print materials into braille materials, for visually-impaired/blind braille readers. Braille Transcription is not really done too much anymore, in this present day-and-age, the ways in which I did it (a slate and stylus, or, by way of a manual Brailling machine), basically because, some years ago now, computers took all of this braille transcription work over. …In the English Braille System, anyway, most all braille reading materials for visually-impaired/blind braille readers are done in what is known as Grade 2 (contracted) Braille. There is Grade 1 (longhand) Braille, and then there is the Grade 2 (contracted) Braille. …There is also a Grade 3 Braille, as some visually-impaired/blind braille readers know it as, and this Grade 3 Braille is usually either music braille or computer braille, to my knowledge. Did you know this? Of all of the visually-impaired/blind braille readers out there in the world, considerably less than one-half of them all even know braille at all and so, therefore, of course, they simply do not read braille. Basically, the reason for this is all of the other mediums in the world, by way of which visually-impaired/blind people gather their everyday information — such as radio, television, talking books for the visually-impaired and the blind, large print and so-on-and-so-forth. And, by the way, I guess that you probably already know that visually-impaired/blind people don’t say, for example, “Well, I listened to that program on television last night.” Instead of that, the visually-impaired/blind, in this same instance of speech, do, in fact, simply say, “Well, I WATCHED that program on television last night.”, just like sighted people say…
I’ve been around visually-impaired/blind people for most-all of my life.
BELLE BURLEY says
So Amazing!!! There is nothing like good news!! So happy to see Lidia Lopez be able to see again!! She is truly blessed!! Many Many Thanks to this team of Doctors!!! You all made History!!! Lots of Hope for those that can not see…Miracles do happen!!!
Peggy Maffei says
God Bless Mrs Lopez! It is so amazing what can be accomplished medically! I can’t even begin to imagine what you have been through and to be able to see again. Amazing!
Amazing!! I’ve been monocular for the past 44 years. (I guess there’s no chance in getting any sight back once they do an enucleation). For those still adjusting to sight issues, especially being monocular, there are websites online to help you navigate through your journey. LostEye is one of them.
Frances Sinor says
Does insurance cover this . If not how much is it..
Fantastic. What a boon for those who have lost their sight. I’m glad these doctors have used their god given talent to better daily life for those in need of sight.
Now, will insurance carriers and Medicare/Medicaid look the other way and hide behind the “it’s experimental” wall or will they provide coverage for the procedure?
Judith Guilbeaux says
Am I right that for a person to have sight restored-it must really be a restoration? In other words, only those who once had sight will be able to benefit from something like this. It is great news either way, but I am just wondering.
Sunny Day says
This is beautiful news.
Jennifer Howard says
Does it help Mac Deg?
Angela Osborne: Wonderful news.
Sharon Russell says
This is hope in progress I have macular and am praying for a miracle before I lose anymore sight thank you for your dedication to help
This is awesome and amazing! Thanks for the researchers and surgeons!
Breakthrough ,and great invention for blind and people who lost their vision.
Thank s to the team For a great accomplishment.
My Great-Grandmother had very poor eyesight in her later years. She ended up with books on cassette. Poor vision skipped 2 generations and 2 cousins have also very poor eyesight. It’s nice to know that this kind of technology is here.
Luz Cruz says
My husband its legally blind ,he can only see shades and he is getting worse as time goes by, he got major health problem but the worse for him is not being able to see.
Marilyn brown says
So wonderful! I told my son to check you out when he was 8 has injury to eye- the eye was stitched up but he has no vision- his Dr at the time said he was leaving it as someday someone could fix his eye- I so wish that Dr was here now to see what can be done! My son is a grown man now but sure would be a gift if he could get vision out of that eye as I worry when he drives as no vision on that side. Thank you for what you are doing for people!!
Thomas Kroplinski says
The breakthrough is wonderful. A lot of money has been going into sight restoration technology. The DOD states that sight loss among our fighting men and women is one of the most debilitating and common disabilities. Literally billions of research dollars are being invested in sight restoration. Whole eye transplantation is also showing promise for the future. In the end, it will be science and technology that will bring sight to the blind, and NOT the mythological Jeeeeezusss or some other manifestation of “big JuJu”!
Sheila gibbs says
Thank God for modern technology God is good all the time..
KassAndra luna says
My daughter was diagnose with retina detachment and prematurity… my daughter kassandra Marie Luna has Medicaid…
Sherry Cline says
My Step- father was the victim of a brutal attack approximately 25 years ago and was left completely blind as a result. He was stabbed in his left eye and became totally blinded in both eyes. If there is anything you can do to help him, please contact me. It would mean the world to him, to me, to our entire family!! Thank you for your consideration!!
Carol Slavin says
My friend had a detached retina and the doctor made a mistake and now my friend lost his vision in that eye. He has glaucoma and this was the better eye! He is now legally blind. Could this operation help him?
Monica Scott says
Both of my parents are blind. I would love for them to receive this device. If there is any information I can get to help them I would to have it.
How wonderful and what a blessing!!!!
Anne Schoff says
This is wonderful news! How exciting to think that people will have vision thanks to great advances in technology. So grateful to all the scientists working on this!!!
Great news. Thank you.
c howard housand says
fantastic what medical science has accompliushed in the last 50 years!!!
Margie Becker says
This is wonderful. I’m so happy for her and for anyone else who will benefit from this in the future. I lost sight in one eye a couple of years ago and I know how difficult it is adjusting to that, but I can’t imagine having no sight. This is a miracle for anyone who is blind.
Lynne Robinson says
Do you perform surgery on someone who has keraticomus ( not spelled correctly )
Hector Espudo says
This is really inspiring to see. With the advances we have in technology, I have no doubt that eyesight will be fully restorable in another twenty years or so, either from devices like this or stem cell research, I believe blindness will become a thing of the past by the end of the century.
I would love to have this be available for Singer Ronnie Milsap. He has provided awesome music for so many years and without sight !!!
Judy whitmire says
My grandson has been blind since birth would really like to know more about this.
How much did this procedure, supplies, medicine, doctors, hospital stay cost ,and who paid for it, as well as follow-up care?
Kathi Hope says
Wondering if this could possibly be an option for people with coloboma? My 13yr old granddaughter was diagnosed with coloboma nastagmus, at 2 mos Iif age. Her vision is slowly deteriorating.
Vicki Spisso says
My nephew was born without eyes. He.has never seen and has 2 glass eyes. Is there anything being worked on that could give him sight?
Laurene Walker says
Joseph E. Bryant says
As someone who was born with little use of my right eye (ambliopic) and now 62 years old , my good left eye has steadily gotten worse over the years , and to make matters even worse I now have cataracts in both eyes . So yes to say the least , any new developments that come along are very promising to those of us whose sight is diminished , and thank you for giving us HOPE !
Donna Manning says
Would something like this help someone that is totally blind from born due to optic nerve didn’t developed
Sheree Turner says
Can you please send me information on this I have a friend who this may help
Aubrey Rogers says
In January 2015 my Wife had a Retinal Optical Oclusion and lost the sight in her left eye. Is this a procedure that could help regain her sight?