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Microchips, lollipops and echolocation: New ways to help the blind see

ericjones12398 (2604021) writes | more than 2 years ago

Technology 0

ericjones12398 writes "Two men in the United Kingdom who had lost their vision after birth due to a genetic condition called retinitis pigmentosa, wherein light-sensitive cells in the eye stop working, just received the gift of sight due to an innovative new microchip implant. Surgeons partially restored vision to both men by implanting tiny electronic chips (0.12 by 0.12 inches) in a thin sheet of tissue at the back of the men’s eyes. When switched on, the chips perform the duties of the malfunctioning photoreceptors, converting light into electrical impulses that travel to the brain. A thin cable threaded beneath the skin connects the chip to a battery back, which sits under the skin near the ear.
These chips were designed by Retina Implant AG, a medical technology company in Germany, and have been implanted in at least ten patients so far as part of clinical trials. The current implants cannot help people with glaucoma or other conditions that degrade the optic nerve, and they do not offer the blind crisp and colorful images, but rather offer blurred outlines. Even so, these indistinct images are a vast improvement over complete blindness, and with the proper training, allow patients to distinguish food, tools, and sometimes people’s faces."

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