docinthemachine writes with news of felines getting human retinal implants. The cats were afflicted with a version of retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that also blinds humans. The implants are 2-millimeter-wide chips surgically implanted in the back of eye. Each chip's surface is covered with 5,000 microphotodiodes that react to light, sending electric signals along the eye's optic nerve to the brain. The article makes clear that the implants don't allow the cats to see — what they get is impulses of light. The hope is that the electrical activity in the optic nerve will encourage new retinal cells to grow. The article notes: "The chips, which provide their own energy, have shown encouraging results in clinical human trials, in some cases improving sight in people with retinitis pigmentosa or at least slowing the disease's development. Narfstrom said chips have been implanted in 30 people."
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