(HealthDay News) — Four Americans have received an artificial retina since it was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration last year, and a 5th is scheduled to receive the implant next month.

The device is meant to help people with retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease that causes progressive damage to light-sensitive cells in the eye’s retina. The “bionic eye” system includes an array of electrodes implanted on the surface of the retina. The person wears glasses that contain a tiny video camera and transmitter. Images from the camera are converted into electrical pulses that are sent to the electrodes and stimulate the retina’s remaining healthy cells, the Associated Press reported.

Dozens of patients in Europe have undergone the artificial retina procedure in recent years. All 4 of the surgeries in the United States have been performed at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, but 11 other centers in the country are accepting patients for consultation.

About 100,000 people in the US have retinitis pigmentosa. To be considered for the artificial retina, patients must be ≥25 years of age and have end-stage retinitis pigmentosa that has left them with little or no light perception in both eyes, the AP reported.

Health Highlights: April 23, 2014