Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a device that can give sight back to people who have lost it from retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The disease is inherited and causes a degradation of the retina and vision as the person ages.

The device is called "Argus II" and produced by Second Sight Medical products.

"This is truly an exciting and historic moment in the drive to restore vision in people with advanced retinal degenerative diseases," says Dr. Stephen Rose, chief research officer of the foundation. "By restoring some basic vision, the Argus II gives people independence, mobility and, ultimately, improved quality of life."

The device consists of an external video camera that is embedded in a pair of glasses that sends the video signal to a 60-electrode grid that has been surgically implanted in the back of the eye on the retina.

The grid converts the video into electrical signals that stimulate the nerves in the back of the eye and send visual information to the brain. The device has allowed people who were blind to see light and dark, shapes, large letters and helps them to move freely with limited vision.

In September, industry experts, company representatives and six users of the device spoke at a FDA hearing on the approval of the device.

The company is currently in development of a 240 electrode version that will improve the resolution of their vision.