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Biotech Medicine Technology

MIT Microchip Could Someday Restore Vision 43

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-can-see-clearly-now dept.
CWmike writes "Researchers at MIT have developed a microchip that could, one day, enable blind people to regain some level of vision. By combining wireless technology, eyeglasses equipped with a camera, and the chip, they should be able to restore at least some vision to people who suffer from retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration, two of the leading causes of blindness, the scientists say. The chip, which is designed to be attached to the eyeball, would pick up images sent from the camera and electrically stimulate the nerve cells that normally carry visual input from the retina to the brain. The chip is sealed in a titanium case to keep water from leaking in and damaging its circuitry. At this point, the technology is not expected to restore normal vision, but MIT said it should provide the ability to navigate around a room or walk down a sidewalk. 'Anything that could help them see a little better and let them identify objects and move around a room would be an enormous help,' said Shawn Kelly, a researcher in MIT's Research Laboratory for Electronics. 'If they can recognize faces of people in a room, that brings them into the social environment as opposed to sitting there waiting for someone to talk to them.'"
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MIT Microchip Could Someday Restore Vision

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  • by nanospook (521118) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:24PM (#29546025)
    This is a total waste of time. Nature already has the best eye.. all we have to do is grow it.. But for the sake of technology, this stuff is great and can result in advances in other fields and products.. maybe someday allowing us to replace our eyes with totally hackable bionic eyes hooked into the internet and capable of playing all the porn we want anytime we want it.. shit, I missed my bus again..
  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:47PM (#29546095) Homepage
    That sounds lovely. What are we supposed to do until then, though? Just sit around on our laurels and wait for it to happen? What of all the sight we could marginally-restore until it's all ready and perfect?
  • by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Friday September 25, 2009 @09:59PM (#29546143) Journal
    Yes, and chip designers all have second degrees in biology and are qualified to do cutting-edge stem cell research.
  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Friday September 25, 2009 @10:02PM (#29546155) Homepage
    As far as Slashdot is concerned, I blame people playing Civilization and its ilk, and thinking that you can (and possibly should) research just one area of technology at a time.
  • by moon3 (1530265) on Friday September 25, 2009 @10:55PM (#29546347)
    We all have grown our eyes once, stem cells from our bodies can arrange and grow another eye again. We have already grown beating rat hearts in the lab, so to grow human organs and tissue is the next step. What they need to do is to assemble basic protein scaffolding and then arrange and activate the stem cells to move to right places and build the organ. This happens in bio-reactors, hell it is not that other worldly tech, some labs do similar things already, but mostly in obscurity. What amazes me that this inferior electronic implants got a green light and much superior regenerative medicine is not even on the support list.
  • by hawk (1151) <hawk@eyry.org> on Saturday September 26, 2009 @01:17AM (#29546793) Journal

    Similar things have been reported for *at least* 30 years.

    In the 1970's, I recall a sensor that clipped to eye glasses and connected to electrodes on the back of the user. I want to say that it was 16x16 or 32x32, but it provided enough "vision" to navigate and see objects.

    A few months ago, iirc, was a report which used nerves on the tongue.

    These reports are evolutionary, not revolutionary. A good thing, but it's not as if this is a breakthrough changing the world from "nothing to let the see" to "now they can see."

    More efficient, easier to handle, lower cost--sure, but that's just the regular advancement of technology.

    hawk

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