Bionic Solar Eye Implant Could Help Restore Sight
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BY STACEY WELSH
ANCHOR JIM FLINK
It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. Stanford researchers created a solar panel eye implant that could restore some vision to the blind. A doctor breaks down how the so-called "bionic eye" works:
"When a patient has got this implanted you wouldn't necessarily know that they had it. The power supply powers the device and then light falls on the device and stimulates the device which then stimulates the nerves in the retina."
The BBC reports early results of a human clinical trial in the UK helped the blind see light and some shapes. The study in Nature explains a pair of glasses fitted with a video camera records what's happening in front of a patient and fires light beams onto the retina.
Medical Daily reports a lead author of the study says the new wireless device is a breakthrough because it requires a less invasive surgical procedure.
"It works like the solar panels on your roof, converting light into electric current. But instead of the current flowing to your refrigerator, it flows into your retina."
New Scientist reports the technology could soon be available to everyone, with a company in California starting clinical trials. But researchers say, it's difficult to tell just how good vision could be.
"Current prostheses show the basic geometry of a shape, but since large numbers of neurons are activated at once, colours appear at random, similar to when you rub your eyes. Implants that provide real colour vision... are still a long way off."
Medical Daily reports the implants could help people with Age-related Macular Degeneration regain some of their vision -- a disease which could affect about three million people in the U.S. by 2020.
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