Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Eye implant helps patients with retinitis pigmentosa to see.

The Philadelphia Inquirer (9/8, Avril) reports that two months ago, surgeons at the Wills Eye Institute "implanted a small array of electrodes in the back of" Michael "Adler's left eye." Now, "in the last few weeks -- with the aid of a small video camera in his sunglasses that transmits images to his retinal implant -- he has begun to gain some limited vision." To date, "surgeons have implanted the devices in the retinas of 32 people around the world. All have a severe form of retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease that causes retinal degeneration." The "retinal implant bypasses damaged cells in the eye, transmitting signals to the same part of the brain that registers images in people with normal vision." While "the resulting black-and-white images are very low-resolution, consisting of just 60 pixels," they do allow Adler to "see the outlines of doors and sidewalks, and he can pick out plates on the dinner table."

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