Sunday, August 9, 2015

Giving sight to the blind

Here is a device that is helping the blind to see. Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a disease of the eye, in which certain important cells in the eye get damaged. These cells, called photoreceptors, are responsible for converting the light into electrical signals. The electrical signals are carried by the optic nerves to the brain. The brain interprets the signals and creates meaningful patterns, in short, makes us see the world.

In patients suffering from RP, the electrical signals don’t get generated, so they can’t see even if all the other parts of their viewing equipment are in perfect order. The newly introduced Argus® II system helps the RP patients to overcome this handicap.

The Argus system has three parts. The first part is a small camera that creates an image of the world in front. The second part is a tiny wearable computer. The computer creates a suitable input for the brain from the image. The third and most interesting part is an implant that is surgically inserted into the eye. This implant receives the signal made by the computer and gives it to the optic nerves in form of electrical pulses.

When the brain gets these pulses, it interprets them and creates a vision. But this vision is different from what we normally see. So the patient has to get used to this new kind of seeing. But it is sure worth the efforts because they get their vision back!

About 100 patients in US and Canada have so far benefited from the invention, which received the USFDA approval in 2013.

While writing about the important discoveries of 2013, I described the ‘Mind Controlled Artificial Leg’, in which the signal from the brain is trapped and given to an artificial leg prosthetic.

The Argus discovery is the mirror image of the mind controlled leg, where we are preparing a signal that the brain can use. This is called a ‘sensory’ signal, as opposed to the ‘motor’ signal used for the artificial leg.

See the website of the company that has invented and is promoting the device:

1 comment:

  1. This is a very nice and informative post. This post will help me so much. Because I'm a medical student and working on retinitis pigmentosa treatment .