Retinal Implant

Recently, an electronic chip measuring 3mm square was implanted behind the retina of patients left blind by retinitis pigmentosa.

Blind people have described smiles on friendly faces, the food on their plates, and household objects from telephones to dustbins, after surgeons fitted them with electronic chips to partially restore their vision.

Image from theverge.com (link). X-ray of a patient fitted with the retinal implant. A dial on the outside of the head controls brightness levels. Photograph: Robert MacLaren/Oxford Eye Hospital

Results from the first eight patients to enrol in a clinical trial of the retinal implants show that five found the chips improved their eyesight enough to be useful in everyday life.

All those involved – men and women aged 35 to 62 – had lost their sight to retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary disease that destroys the light-sensitive cells in the eye. The chip stands in for the defunct cells by detecting light rays and converting them into electrical pulses, which are sent along the optic nerve to the brain.

Each patient spent up to 10 hours in surgery to have the 3mm by 3mm chip implanted in one eye. The chip is studded with 1,500 light-sensitive elements that pick up light falling on the macula, the most light-sensitive part of the retina. (from the guardian – link)

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