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Retinal prostheses such as the Argus II, Bio-Retina and the Retina Implant AG microchip all work – more or less – by stimulating the retina’s ganglion cells with light-induced electrical signals. The images produced in the patient’s visual cortex tend to be quite rudimentary, however. This is partially because the rate at which the signals are sent isn’t the same as the rate of neural impulses normally produced by a retina. Now, researchers have deciphered the neural code used by mouse ganglion cells, and used it to create a prosthesis that reportedly restores normal vision to blind mice. They have additionally deciphered the neural code of monkeys, which is close to that used by humans, so a device for use by blind people could also be on the way. Read More
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Atlanta's Emory University have developed microneedles less than a millimeter in length that can deliver drug molecules and particles to the region in the back of eye. The new technology provides an alternative to current methods which are either invasive, with drugs being injected into the center of the eye, or based on eyedrops, which are limited in their effectiveness. Read More
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in North America, while retinitis pigmentosa causes approximately 1.5 million people worldwide to lose their sight every year. Individuals afflicted with retinal degenerative diseases such as these might someday be able to see again, however, thanks to a device being developed at California’s Stanford University. Scientists there are working on a retinal prosthesis, that uses what could almost be described as miniature solar panels to turn light signals into nerve impulses. Read More
Among the primary causes of adult-onset blindness are degenerative diseases of the retina, such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. While some treatments have been developed that slow down the rate of degeneration, the clinical situation is still generally unsatisfactory. But if you could grow a new retina, transplant might be a possible cure. Now new hope is springing up from a research project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in which scientists have succeeded in growing human retinal tissue from stem cells. Read More
For the past 150 years, ophthalmologists have used the Snellen chart – with its rows of letters in descending sizes – to check patients’ vision. While it has done the job reasonably well, PediaVision CEO David Melnik believes that his Spot device offers some distinct advantages. Most importantly, instead of being required to read and recite letters, patients simply look into the device as it takes some pictures. Based on those images, it will proceed to notify clinicians if it detects potential vision problems. Read More
According to figures reported by the University of Tennessee, even though 85 percent of a child’s learning is vision-related, about 80 percent of American children have never had their eyes tested before starting kindergarten. Even when tests are performed, they are usually only capable of detecting no more than a couple of conditions. Unfortunately, this means that vision-related learning disabilities such as dyslexia can be missed, and may not be noticed until they are well-established. Now, however, researchers at U Tennessee’s Space Institute have developed a new type of vision-testing system for young children, that could catch a variety of vision problems while they’re still reversible. Read More
Fans of the original film in the Terminator franchise will recall how various bits of data were shown to be overlaid on the cyborg's vision - in particular, they might remember the list of possible responses that could be used when someone was angrily knocking on its door (for those who don't remember, its chosen response wasn't very polite). Such augmented vision systems are now a little closer to reality, thanks to work being done by a team of scientists at the University of Washington and Aalto University, in Finland. They have created a contact lens that displays information, which is visible to the wearer. Read More
By now, many readers are probably familiar with the da Vinci robotic surgery system. It allows a seated surgeon, using a 3D display and hand controls, to operate on a patient using robotic arms equipped with surgical instruments. Not only does the system allow for more laparoscopic surgery (in which surgical instruments access the inside of the patient’s body through small incisions, instead of one large opening), but it even makes it possible for the surgeon and the patient to be in separate geographical locations. Now, a researcher at the Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology has developed a similar system, designed specifically for operations on the eye. Read More
When he was nine years old, Toronto film-maker Rob Spence received a severe injury to his right eye in a shotgun accident. After a period of hiding the aftermath under an eyepatch, six years ago he had the eye replaced with a prosthesis. Being a visual artist, however, he had an idea - instead of just an unseeing artificial eye, he wanted one that could capture images of what he was looking at, and wirelessly transmit them to an external recording device. He himself wouldn't be able to see through the eye, but the footage obtained from it could take film-making to new levels. It's been a few years since Spence began his Eyeborg Project, but he has just announced that the eye is now functioning. Read More
No, it's not just you. According to studies recently conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, the viewing of stereoscopic 3D displays does indeed cause visual discomfort, fatigue and headaches. The problem appears to come from the fact that the viewers' eyes are simultaneously trying to focus on the screen, and on objects that appear to be located either in front of or behind that screen. Read More