DailyDirt: That The Blind May See
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Most of us take vision for granted, but about 21.5 million adult Americans have trouble seeing, even with glasses or other vision aids. The leading causes of blindness or low vision in the US are age-related eye diseases, and many of the treatments are in fairly early stages of research and development. It’s not easy to replicate the functions of a retina, but here are just a few projects that are working on ways to restore vision with some interesting technologies.
- Retrosense Therapeutics is working on a gene therapy that will allow ganglion cells (instead of rod and cone cells) to respond to light and send visual information to the brain. Patients with retinitis pigmentosa often have plenty of healthy ganglion cells, but they can’t see because their natural photoreceptors aren’t functioning. This therapy has restored some vision-based behaviors in rodents, and clinical trials could start in 2013. [url]
- Electronic devices to replace natural retinas are being developed by about 20 research groups around the world. The Centre for Ophthalmology, Tuebingen, Germany has transferred some of its research to a company (Retina Implant AG) for clinical testing of a subretinal chip. [url]
- Australian researchers have developed a prototype bionic eye and implanted it in a 54-year-old woman. The Bionics Institute in East Melbourne is studying how her brain reacts to the signals from this implant, and so far, Dianne Ashworth can now see some flashes of light. [url]
If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post.