MIT Retinal Implant

This retinal implant from MIT may one day restore some measure of sight to blind people. In particular, sufferers from retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration could be helped.


(MIT retinal implant)

The retinal prosthesis would take over the function of lost retinal cells by electrically stimulating the nerve cells that normally carry visual input from the retina to the brain.

When the microchip receives visual information, it activates electrodes that stimulate nerve cells in the areas of the retina corresponding to the features of the visual scene. The electrodes directly activate optical nerves that carry signals to the brain, bypassing the damaged layers of retina.

Another feature of the new MIT prototype is that the chip is now contained in a hermetically sealed titanium case. Previous versions were encased in silicone, which would eventually allow water to seep in and damage the circuitry.


(MIT retinal implant)

Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation may be thinking of the VISOR device worn by Geordi La Forge.


(Star Trek VISOR)

The VISOR, acronym for Visual Instrument and Sensory Organ Replacement, was a medical device used in the Federation to aid patients who have suffered loss of eyesight or who were born blind. The VISOR detected electromagnetic signals across the entire EM spectrum, between 1 Hz and 100 000 THz (TNG: "The Masterpiece Society"), and transmitted those signals to the brain through neural implants in the temples of the individual via delta-compressed wavelengths. The result was a vastly different visual acuity, with VISOR-wearers able to see in the infra-red and ultra-violet ranges, and beyond.

Learn more about MIT retinal implant and the science-fictional VISOR. Thanks to Winchell Chung for suggesting this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/26/2009)

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