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Monday, April 21, 2008

Eye Spy with my Little Eye

Surgeons give hope to blind with successful 'bionic eye' operations - Times Online:
"Surgeons have carried out the first operations in Britain using a pioneering “bionic eye” that could in future help to restore the sight of the blind. ...

...The device — the first of its kind in the world — incorporates a video camera and transmitter mounted on a pair of glasses. This is linked to an artificial retina, which transmits moving images along the optic nerve to the brain, and enables a patient to discriminate rudimentary images of motion, light and dark...

....American researchers are now hoping to develop a camera to the size of a pea, such that it might also be implanted within the eyeball, effectively replacing natural tissue with artificial technology...

... electrodes in the implant unscramble the signal to create a crude black and white picture, which is relayed along the optic nerve to the brain. The brain can then perceive patterns of light and dark spots corresponding to which electrodes are stimulated. ..."
Oh my -- can you imagine???
I thought I was excited after my cataract surgery and I was able to see without aid of glasses or contact lenses. I have glasses now to help clear up the little bit that the new lenses couldn't straighten out (dr was rather surprised that my astigmatism didn't clear up all the way...but then that could be because I'm just so used to seeing with it all my life that my brain doesn't think the world looks right without it)....

I could not imagine the wonderment of being able to see after being completely blind.

I love this portion of the story:
"...Linda Moorfoot is one of a few American patients to be fitted with the current version of the implant. She had been totally blind for more than a decade with the inherited condition retinitis pigmentosa. But, with the aid of the camera mounted on a pair of sunglasses, she can now see a rough image of the world made up of light and dark blocks.
She told Sky News: “When I go to the grandkids’ hockey game or soccer game I can see which direction the game is moving in. I can shoot baskets with my grandson, and I can see my granddaughter
dancing across the stage. It’s wonderful
.”
Ms Moorfoot’s implant has just 16 electrodes but the US surgeons have helped to fit an even more advanced device to the two British patients.
The updated model has 60 electrodes to give a clearer image. Meanwhile in California, scientists are developing an implant with 1,000 electrodes, which should allow facial recognition...."

Could you imagine how she must have felt?? At least she had something to compare it against, being that she had seen before ... to suddenly be able to see the loved ones in your life?

I have seen specials about little kids who get the concial implants and get to hear for the first time in their lives -- and it is totally overwhelming to them at first...I wonder if it would be the same thing for one who is/was blind. Imagine seeing yourself for the very first time!

What a wonderous thing!

I do have to admit, that when I first saw the story I had hoped that they were annoucing that they were approving the artificial pupil/iris device which they are using in England right now ... that would have personal impact on our lives - our son is missing part of the iris in one eye and it does more than just give your eye color.

The iris is responsible for the opening and closing of your pupil, cutting down too much light getting into your eye and harming your retinas...it also helps your eye focus by reshaping the lens in your eye...they are a lot more than just coloration.

But, alas, we will have to wait a little longer. as long as they can make the lens for his glasses we can wait for them to perfect it.

My - how great the human mind/intellect can be!!

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