A new approach to creating the ‘bionic eye’ may help blind people regain their sight or even receive the ability to see for the first time in their lives. Researchers have been able to strengthen the way that retinal implants work in the brain by figuring out the ‘code’ that is used by the body in order to send visual signals along to the brain.
The code is made up of a varied set of patterns that are exhibited by electrical pulses. The new device the scientists have created allows them to restore normal vision in blind mice that do not have light-sensitive cells.
Tests report that when the device was hooked up to the white mice the animals were then able to track images and discern facial features.When the electrical signals were reconstructed the features of a child’s face were shown.
On the other hand, when the results were compared to what is seen with a standard retinal implant the current implant was only able to produce a pattern of dark and bright spots. The results were published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal and could help change the way that retinal prosthetics were created.
Right now even the best retinal inhalants are only able to offer limited vision to those who use the implants allowing patients to see high contrast edges and spots of light. Scientists from around the globe are working on creating retinal implants to help people suffering from degenerative maculation and other eye diseases regain their sight.
Right now there are over twenty million people in the world that are at risk of going blind or are already blind. In most cases of blindness the light sensitive receptors of the retina are damaged but the nerve connections remain intact.