Kim O.

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Kim O with a retinal prosthesis

Retinal Prosthesis

Bringing a baby into the world is a moment many parents relish. It is a time when your life changes with the addition of a new baby. For Kim and, her husband, Sean, their life changes were intensified. After the birth of their second daughter, Kim’s vision began to rapidly deteriorate. At age 12, Kim was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa with a macular edema.  Sixteen years later, she was registered legally blind with 80% vision loss. While celebrating the joy of a newborn baby at age 30, Kim had post-natal depression but it was amplified by her grieving the loss of her own vision, which had progressed to only tunnel vision.

The disease progression accelerated. Eighteen months after the birth of their second daughter, Kim retained some light perception but nothing else. Parenting two young daughters is not an easy duty but imagine trying do to so as a visually impaired parent.  With her new condition, Kim found herself relying more on her husband to care for the children. She found it difficult not being able to give her children what other mothers were able to do so easily. Over time, they learned to adapt to a new way of parenting and Kim began to use more advanced planning to get their daughters to their various activities.

While listening to the news, Kim heard a story about an experimental technology to help restore vision for people living with retinitis pigmentosa. The news story described a retinal prosthesis system, the Argus® II, and the clinical study involving the implantation of components into people living with blindness. The study was recruiting new candidates at the time. Sparking her interest, Kim thought, “This is amazing, especially if I can do that.”

Kim is a pioneer as one of the first people to receive the retinal neural prosthetic to restore vision. Read more about her story and how the technology is impacting her life in the book, Bionic Pioneers.

Learn more about neurotech for visual impairment in our directory here

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