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If you suffer from a specific form blindness called “retinitis pigmentosa” [ learn more, and more], which affects night and peripheral visions, then researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California have a deal for you!
Dr. James Weiland and his team have devised a successful electrical implant that stimulates healthy nerve cells in the retina of the eye in a calculated way to give the patient the sensation that light. The research device was designed to solve the specific vision problem of retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative condition that causes a person to gradually loose eye sight over time.
A video camera is directly connected to a 16 electrode chip that is interfaced directly into the retina. A special mini-computer analyzes the images from the camera, churns out some calculations, and controls a specific pattern of electrical stimulation to the neurons in the retina.
This implementation of a “bionic eye” does not actually reproduce the image of the surroundings onto the patient’s retina, but fills in some of the dark gaps of vision by stimulating nerve cells to fool the brain into believing there is actual light coming from a specific location.
[ Visit the academic website heading up this research. ]
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