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Vision

Diabetic retinopathy is one of a number of nasty effects diabetes can have on the human body. The disease sees the development of leaky blood vessels in the eye that over time lead to permanent loss of vision. Though it is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in American adults, its progress can be slowed by certain drugs or laser treatment. But research has now uncovered a new protein found to drive the condition, raising the possibility of preventing it altogether.

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Across the world many millions of people suffer from inherited conditions that progressively degenerate the light-sensing cells in their eyes, and eventually send them blind. Recently, however, researchers from the University of Bern and the University of Gottingen have developed a way to possibly reverse this damage by using a newly-developed, light-sensitive protein embedded into other cells in the retina to restore vision.

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Spectral Edge has unveiled a smart HDMI adapter that's designed to enhance the TV viewing experience for colorblind users, without significantly impacting what "color normals" see. The company is hoping to bring the product to market via a crowdfunding effort. Read More
It sounds like something from a science-fiction movie, but a biohacking group in California has managed to develop eye drops that temporarily give a human being excellent night vision. The chemicals used are still very much at the experimental stage – this isn't something you'd want to try at home just yet – but the first trial has been a successful one. Read More
For people with reduced vision, getting around safely without walking into obstacles can be tricky. Those with decent central vision but whose peripheral sight is fading or lost are particularly at risk because they aren't conditioned to be alert for oncoming dangers they can't see. But a new pocket-sized device that sits on a person's chest may make walking much safer for these people and others with visual impairments by warning of impending collisions. Read More
Having evolved under the pressure of Earth's gravity, it isn't surprising that our bodies experience adverse physiological affects after long periods in low-Earth orbit. NASA hopes that a new experiment, the Fluid Shifts investigation, set to launch to the ISS later this year, will shed light on the causes of vision loss and deformation of the structure to the eye often suffered by astronauts over the course of a stay aboard the ISS. Read More
It's hard to appreciate the feeling of living with a visual impairment if you haven't experienced it yourself. The edge blurring of glaucoma or the clouded, fogged-up vision of a cataract, or even the confusing hue-challenged sights of a colorblind person may register on an intellectual level with somebody who has normal vision, but few really "get it" because it's too alien to them. SIMVIZ aims to fix that by attaching a wide-angle camera to a virtual reality headset, to filter the world around you according to any of six visual impairments: colorblindness, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, double vision, and macular degeneration. Read More
Our eyes extract a lot of information from visible light that enables us to see color, movement, shadows, highlights, shapes, and more, with each component processed separately and sent to the brain in parallel to the others. It was previously thought that the same scene would always be converted into the same pattern of activity. But research by scientists at the University of Tübingen in Germany and the University of Manchester in the UK suggests that the signals differ wildly as the brightness of the environment changes by even small amounts. Read More
A new genetic therapy that helped blind mice and dogs respond to light stimulus could restore sight to people who suffer from diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (a gradual loss of vision from periphery inwards). The therapy uses chemicals known as photoswitches, which change shape when hit with light, to open the channels that activate retinal cells. Treated mice can distinguish between steady and flashing light, while dogs with late-stage retinal degeneration also regain some sensitivity to light. Read More
A promising new study suggests that a wireless, light-sensitive, and flexible nanotube-semiconductor nanocrystal film could potentially form part of a prosthetic device to replace damaged or defective retinas. The film both absorbs light and stimulates neurons without being connected to any wires or external power sources, standing it apart from silicon-based devices used for the same purpose. It has so far been tested only on light-insensitive retinas from embryonic chicks, but the researchers hope to see the pioneering work soon reach real-world human application. Read More
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