Retinal implants help blind patients read
Jan 21, 2013
Retinal implants developed by scientists are helping blind people read braille with their eyes instead of their fingers. A device has been developed that can transmit signals to a small implant in the retinal cells of the eye.
Retinal implants developed by scientists are helping blind people read braille with their eyes instead of their fingers. A device has been developed that can transmit signals to a small implant in the retinal cells of the eye. The device, Argus II, has been used in fifty patients and has helped blind patients see patterns and letters for the first time.
The transmitted signals are electrical signals translated from a processor in a camera that is mounted on a pair of glasses. According to researcher Thomas Lauritzen, past clinical tests typically processed signals through the camera. The new technology directly stimulates the retina. The blind patient was able to see the projected patterns and read single letters in less than a second. They were read with up to 89 percent accuracy.
The Argus II was developed by Second Sight, whose researchers also put together a clinical trial for multiple patients. The device has restored limited reading ability when used with the camera for patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa. Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a group of inherited eye diseases that cause rapid vision loss due to photoreceptor cells dying. Forms of this disease are known as Usher syndrome, Leber’s congenital amaurosis, rod-cone disease, Bardet-Biedl syndrome and Refsum disease.
With the help of the Argus II, patients were able to easily recognize braille along with single letters and words that contained up to four letters at 80 percent accuracy. They were shown letters for half a second. The future goal is to develop a faster way to help blind people read. The addition of recognition software might help researchers and scientists obtain that goal.