retinal implants restore vision in blindness

Microchips implanted in the retina of the eye, allowed three blind patients to distinguish between certain forms and outlines of objects.

blind Three patients who experimental microchips were installed, could see the shadows and shapes of objects.And it gives hope that on the horizon there is a new approach to the treatment of blindness.

Patients participating in the study were blinded as a result of hereditary retinal degeneration.A few days after the implantation of a tiny microchip the two men and one woman were able to discern the shadows and some forms of objects.One person could understand that his bride smiled at him.

How do the implants

microchip the size of a sesame seed contains 1,500 light sensors connected to amplifiers and electrodes.The microchip detects light and using the remaining working retinal neurons transmit light signals to the brain.

«implants are controlled by a small external portable unit which receives signals from a device the size of a coin, implanted under the sk

in behind the ear.This device is connected to the chip in the retina of the eye, "- explains Eberhart Zrener, one of the developers of the microchip.

retina implant allows patients to distinguish between high-contrast light and dark images.The brain learns to interpret these lines and shapes and put in a certain way.

In the pilot study since 2005, the microchip was introduced eleven patients, but after the first eight operations researchers changed the location of the microchip in the retina.And the results have improved.The last three patients were able to find bright objects on a dark table, and two of them were able to name some specific objects, the first time he saw them.One patient was able to describe objects such as forks, knives and various types of fruit, as well as the right to name the big white pieces and letters, placed on a black background.

«Of course, this vision can hardly be called normal - says Zrenner.- But for people who have not seen anything at all for many years, it is an achievement. "

Extensive research continues

currently under a two-year study, which will be attended by 25 to 50 patients.Zrenner said that if all goes well, retinal implants will be available in the next 3-5 years.They can be installed for people blind due to genetic eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa.About one in 4,000 people worldwide blindness is a hereditary disease.

already tested special equipment that interacts with the retinal implant, which includes the camera and transmitter mounted on special glasses.

Stephen Rose, chief research officer of the Fund for the fight against blindness, says the excitement around the retinal implant is understandable and justified: "It will be a big step in the preservation of vision.It gives hope for the development of the industry, which helps blind people see the world in all its colors. "

He hoped that the revision of implants can lead to even more functional vision in blind patients, possibly as early as the next decade.

«These people will not be able to drive, but will be able to read large print, as well as people with low vision" - he says.

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