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Thursday, November 4, 2010

New Retinal Chip Temporarily Restores Vision for Blind Man

Researchers at University Eye Clinic in Tübingen, Germany have begun testing a new retinal implant designed to restore sight to the blind. Previous experiments like this have employed external cameras, but the new device uses the patient's eye itself to help collect and process visual data. 

small chip is implanted in the rear of the eye, where it converts light into electronic impulses. These impulses are then fed to the optic nerve; patients are trained to interpret the flashes as images. The resulting images were detailed enough for patients to recognize large letters and navigate a room filled with obstacles.

The most successful results came with Miikka Terho, of Finland, who was -- within days of receiving the implant -- able to read his own name, which had been intentionally misspelled to ensure that he was actually reading the word. Terho was also able to tell time on a clock, as well as identify and locate cutlery and dishes on a table. His prototype implant has since been removed, but he has been promised an upgraded model soon. 

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