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  • 11/7/2010

Retinal implant helps restore eyesight

retinal implant helps restore eyesight

An experimental retinal microchip implant has shown promising results in helping blind people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa see shadows and shapes.

Retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disorder characterized by retinal degeneration, affects one in every 4,000 individuals worldwide; 10 percent of these cases are believed to be secondary to hereditary reasons.

According to a report published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, three patients were able to locate vivid objects on a dark table and name some objects the first time they see them after receiving the implant.

These patients were able to distinguish objects like forks, knives, and different fruit on the table. They were also able to identify large, white shapes and letters placed on a black background.

“This was certainly not normal vision…But for people who have been completely blind for years, even this limited improvement can make a difference,” said lead researcher Eberhart Zrenner.

The implant, which is only slightly larger than a sesame seed, has 1,500 light sensors connected to amplifiers and electrodes. It senses light and with the assistance of still functioning neurons in the retina passes on light signals to the brain.

The microchips are controlled by a small handy external unit which receives signals from a coin-sized instrument implanted under the skin right behind the ear and is connected to the chip in the retina, the study found.

Scientists concluded that the retinal implant permits the user to differentiate between “highly contrasting light and dark images,” as the brain learns to interpret lines and shapes them into meaningful images after some time.

They hope the retinal implant, which would be commercially available in three to five years, would help treat patients blinded due to retinitis pigmentosa.

Source: presstv.ir

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