Technology has reached new heights. A blind man can finally see his wife after 10 years thanks to a revolutionary eye implant.
Allen Zderad is suffering from a condition called retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic condition which leads to the destruction of specialized cells located in the retina, called photoreceptors. This disease can evolve to such a degree that it leaves the person blind. This is what happened to Allen.
His condition affected his job and with no available cure, he was forced to retire. But he managed to rearrange his lifestyle and with the help of his sense of touch and spatial awareness he was able to pursue his hobby: woodworking.
But now, with the help of this new retinal prosthesis, he will be able to detect the contours of objects and people. This will help him walk in crowded areas without the use of his cane, thus augmenting the quality of his life.
The eye implant is designed to send light wave signals directly to the optic nerve thus getting around the damaged area. A small chip with multiple electrodes was attached to the posterior region of the eye, providing with 60 points of stimulation.
The retina surface of the device is connected to a pair of sunglasses which have a camera attached to the portion in contact with the bridge of the nose. The camera captures images and stores them in a small computer placed in a belt pack. The images are then analyzed and sent in the form of visual information to the implant. It then processes the data and sends it to the retina and finally to the brain.
Dr. Raymond Iezzi Jr., an ophthalmologist from the Mayo Clinic explained that “Mr. Zderad is experiencing what we call artificial vision.” He further detailed by saying that Allan is “receiving pulses of electrical signal that are going on to his retina”. Those signals will generate small flashes of light, known as electro-phosphenes. He described the flashes as “points of light on a scoreboard at a baseball game.”
Dr. Iezzi hopes this technology will develop enough to give other types of patients like those suffering from diabetes, glaucoma or soldiers who lost their sight recover as much as possible.
Image Source: KHOU