Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark office issued U.S. Patent No. 8,000,000, entitled "Visual Prosthesis." The named inventors are Robert Greenberg, Kelly McClure, and Arup Roy, and the patent is assigned to Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. of Sylmar, California. According to the PTO's press release about this patent:
About Patent Number 8,000,000
In a healthy eye, the photoreceptors (rods and cones) on the retina convert light into tiny electrochemical impulses that are sent through the optic nerve and into the brain, where they are decoded into images. If the photoreceptors no longer function correctly, the first step in this process is disrupted and the visual system cannot transform light into images, causing blindness.
The system awarded patent number 8,000,000 is designed to bypass the damaged photoreceptors altogether. A miniature video camera housed in the patient’s glasses sends information to a small computer worn by the patient where it is processed and transformed into instructions transmitted wirelessly to a receiver in an implanted stimulator. The signals are then sent to an electrode array, attached to the retina, which emits small pulses of electricity. These electrical pulses are intended to bypass the damaged photoreceptors and stimulate the retina’s remaining cells to transmit the visual information along the optic nerve to the brain.
The Patent Office also has a chart about the history of patents ending in 000,000. If you want a PDF of this patent, go to http://www.pat2pdf.org/.