New Implanted Device Helps Blind Patients See Faint Images
ABC World News (5/3, story 9, 0:30, Sawyer) reported, “Researchers in Britain are celebrating an experiment where two blind men regained perception of light and shape after a new kind of surgery.” Physicians there “implanted devices behind their eyes that can detect light and send electronic signals to the brain. And now the patients say they can see faint images, like the silhouette of cars.”
“The two patients, Chris James and Robin Millar, lost their vision due to a condition known as retinitis pigmentosa (RP), where the photoreceptor cells at the back of the eye gradually cease to function,” BBC News (5/4, Walsh) explains. “The wafer-thin, 3mm square microelectronic chip has 1,500 light-sensitive pixels which take over the function of the photoreceptor rods and cones. The surgery involves placing it behind the retina from where a fine cable runs to a control unit under the skin behind the ear.”
The UK’s Guardian (5/4, Sample) reports, “The implants could restore rudimentary vision to patients with a range of conditions that affect the eye’s rods and cones, the cells that detect light and convert it into electrical pulses that are sent along the optic nerve to the brain.” Conditions, such as “RP, choroideraemia and age-related macular degeneration, all affect these cells, but leave the rest of the eye undamaged.” The new implant offers hope to these particular patients.
The UK’s Telegraph (5/4, Collins) points out, “Previous eye implants have relied on external cameras, rather than the eye itself, to take in light before transmitting it into electrical signals.”
The UK’s Daily Mail (5/4, Hope) provides a graphic detailing how the implant functions, while the UK’s Independent (5/4, Cooper) notes that the implant was developed by Retina Implant AG, a German company. Also covering the story are the New York Daily News (5/3, Goyette) and the CBS News (5/4, DyBuncio) “HealthPop” blog.