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Blind

The Argus II Retinal Implant from California-based company Second Sight has become the first retinal prosthesis for treatment of the blind approved for sale in Europe. The approval follows a successful clinical trial that ran for almost four years and saw more than 30 patients around the world using the device at home as they went about their daily lives. While the system isn’t able to restore normal vision, the majority of trial subjects gained the ability to perceive colors, recognize large letters and locate objects, while two were even able to read short sentences. Read More
We've looked at a number of efforts to extend the capabilities of the traditional white cane for the visually impaired, such as using ultrasonic echoes or lasers to give users a better lay of the land. But a group of engineering researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) are looking to do away with the cane altogether and replace it with a "guide vest" that works in conjunction with a helmet-mounted camera and special software to let wearers "see" the world through tactile feedback. Read More
What do trees, rivers, clouds and neurons have in common? They're all examples of fractals, or irregularly-shaped objects in which any one component is the same shape as the whole – a tributary of a river, for instance, looks like a miniature river itself. Electronic chips are not fractals, yet some researchers are trying to restore sight to the blind by attaching such chips to the eye's neurons. Given that neurons are fractals, wouldn't it work better to hook them up to other fractal structures? University of Oregon researcher Richard Taylor thinks so, which is why he's developing metal "nanoflowers." Read More
While we've looked at a couple of efforts to upgrade the humble white cane's capabilities, such as the ultrasonic Ultracane and the laser scanning cane, the decidedly low tech white cane is still one of the most commonly used tools to help the visually impaired get around without bumping into things. Now, through their project called NAVI (Navigation Aids for the Visually Impaired), students at Germany's Universität Konstanz have leveraged the 3D imaging capabilities of Microsoft's Kinect camera to detect objects that lie outside a cane's small radius and alert the wearer to the location of obstacles through audio and vibro-tactile feedback. Read More
Smartphones have already proven their worth as navigation devices for sighted people but a new concept aims to go even further for the vision impaired. Dubbed blinput, the system would allow visually impaired people to not only find their way around, but also interact with the connected world using the smartphone’s camera to gather context relevant information that would then be relayed to the user through a pair of headphones. Read More
For the past several years, various research institutions and organizations have been experimenting with electronic “white canes” for the blind. One of these was the ultrasound-enabled UltraCane, which we profiled five years ago. Now, however, an associate professor of applied science at the University of Arkansas is working on something more advanced – a white cane that utilizes laser technology to give users the lay of the land. Read More
After five years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally given approval to an eye telescope that treats macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. The Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT) has been developed by VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies, Inc. as part of Centrasight, a new patient care system which treats end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Read More
Next January, before the Rolex 24 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, a Ford Escape will drive around part of the course. The catch: its driver will be blind. The event will be a demonstration of technology developed by the US National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech). Three years ago, Virginia Tech accepted the NFB’s Blind Driver Challenge (BDC), in which engineering schools were invited to design non-visual interfaces that would allow blind people to drive. From the sounds of things, the Rolex 24 demo could be just the tip of the iceberg. Read More
The classic nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice might need to be rewritten thanks to researchers from the Friedrich Miescher Institute (FMI) and the Institut de la Vision in Paris. Using gene therapy, the scientists have have restored sight in mice by repairing the function of cone photoreceptors made defective by a genetic eye condition. Read More
In another world first in the fight against degenerative eye disorders, scientists from the Universtiy of California, Irvine, have created an eight-layer early-stage retina from human embryonic stem cells. Not only is this the world's first three-dimensional complex tissue structure to be made from stem cells, but it also marks the first step toward the development of transplant-ready retinas to treat eye disorders affecting millions. Read More
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