from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Blindness or visual impairment affects hundreds of millions of people around the world. Thankfully, cataract surgery and other treatments have reduced the effects of some vision problems, but unfortunately, there are still a few forms of blindness that aren’t very treatable. Until someone figures out how to transplant an entire eyeball (which some doctors are actually working on), here are a few other ways that might help restore some sight.
- The field of optogenetics is studying how to control the activity of nerve cells with light, but shining lights through a fiber-optic cable implanted in a brain is a bit more invasive than injecting some DNA into an eyeball. RetroSense Therapeutics is testing a way to restore some sight to blind patients — by injecting eyes with viruses containing DNA from light-sensitive algae. We’ve mentioned this approach a few years ago, but it’s taken some time to actually get to a trial with human subjects. [url]
- Stem cells have been used to re-grow the lenses in infants who would have been blind from congenital cataracts. This procedure seems to have preferable results compared to the standard method of removing lenses and inserting artificial ones — and if this can be done more generally, the use of stem cells in regenerative therapies could become more common. [url]
- A head-mounted geomagnetic sensor (aka a compass) on a blind lab rat was connected to its brain and allowed the rat to navigate a maze nearly as well as a mouse with normal vision. This could mean “smart” canes for people that can indicate cardinal directions for the visually impaired — or implants that could give anyone the additional sense of magnetic fields. [url]
After you’ve finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.