For almost all of us that can read this page, it's difficult to imagine the challenges of being blind. Even the simplest acts that we take for granted, like going into the kitchen and making lunch, must be infused with challenges that most of us can scarcely imagine. Now a new implantable medical device promises to restore vision to hundreds of thousands of people with the condition retinitis pigmentosa.
Although the new device has only been implanted in three people in Germany so far, the results are very promising. All three had retinal dsytrophy from retinitis pigmentosa, a condition where the light receptors in your eyes stop working, and your vision becomes severely impaired.
It should be noted that the scientists that are promoting the new device work for the company Retinal Implant AG, as well as the Institute for Ophthalmic Research at the University of Tuebingen, and so may have a vested interest in promoting the success of the product.
Nonetheless, the preliminary results appear to speak for themselves. As reported in the Telegraph.uk, one of the implantees was "able to identify and find objects placed on a table in front of him, as well as walk around a room independently and approach people, read a clock face and differentiate seven shades of grey."
The device is described as revolutionary in that it is implanted behind the retina, and replaces the light sensors. Previous attempts at similar devices have been implanted in front of the retina, and required external equipment to work--a "processing unit" and a camera.
Although the process is described by one expert as a "a long way off from being a bionic eye," the fact that an implantable device can provide even a return to partial sight is a significant and welcome breakthrough. Have you had any challenges with your vision?
Eye Health Tip:
Remember to have regular comprehensive dilated eye exams to make sure there are no warning signs of gluacoma, diabetic eye disease, or other health challenges.
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