Text Size Normal Text Sizing Button Medium Text Sizing Button Large Text Sizing Button Text Contrast Normal Contrast Button Reverse Contrast Button Switch to Spanish Language Press Room Contact Us Sitemap Sign In Register
Link to Homepage About BrightFocus
BrightFocus
Donate Now Get Involved  
Alzheimer's Disease Research Macular Degeneration Research National Glaucoma Research


Stay Informed: Medical and Research Updates
Connect With Us! Visit the Children's Corner for Macular Degeneration
 

 

New Advance In Medical Technology Enables Blind People To See Shapes and Objects

November 5, 2010

Adapted from the Royal Society

Research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B reveals that a group of researchers based in Germany have developed a retinal implant that has allowed three blind people to see shapes and objects within days of the implant being installed.

One blind person was even able to identify and find objects placed on a table in front of him, as well as walking around a room independently and approaching people, reading a clock face and differentiating seven shades of grey. The device, which has been developed by the company Retinal Implant AG together with the Institute for Ophthalmic Research at the University of Tuebingen, represents an unprecedented advance in electronic visual prostheses and could eventually revolutionize the lives of people worldwide who suffer from blindness as a result of retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration.

In these diseases light receptors in the eye cease to function. Writing in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Prof. Dr. Eberhart Zrenner (founding Director of Retinal Implant AG and Director and Chairman of the University of Tuebingen Eye Hospital) states that “The results of this pilot study provide strong evidence that the visual functions of patients blinded by a hereditary retinal dystrophy can, in principle, be restored to a degree sufficient for use in daily life.”

The device—known as a subretinal implant—sits underneath the retina, directly replacing light receptors lost in retinal degeneration. As such, it uses the eyes' natural image processing capabilities beyond the light detection stage to produce a visual perception in the patient that is stable and follows their eye movements. Other types of retinal implants—known as epiretinal implants—sit outside the retina and because they bypass the intact light-sensitive structures in the eyes they require the user to wear an external camera and processor unit.

The subretinal implant described in this paper achieves unprecedented clarity because it has a great deal more light receptors than other similar devices. As Prof. Dr. Zrenner states, “The present study...presents proof-of-concept that such devices can restore useful vision in blind human subjects, even though the ultimate goal of broad clinical application will take time to develop.”

View all news updates for macular degeneration


Disclaimer: The information provided in this section is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation, and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional, and is not intended to constitute medical advice. Although we take efforts to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information on our website reflects the most up-to-date research. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice; all medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy.

Some of the content in this section is adapted from other sources, which are clearly identified within each individual item of information.

Twitter YouTube Facebook Shop for a Cause Pinterest Google+ Connect With Us