Bionic eyes offering better sight to blind

Bionic eyes are being made possible through research. Through this research they have developed new technologies that are making it possible to read printed text, recognize faces and lead normal, independent lives. There is still a way to go yet, however with the introduction of the new contact lens with a built in telescope being tested we seem to be on the right path.-MDA
By Lisa M. Krieger
A brighter ray of hope is on the horizon for the blind, as scientists improve electronic hardware that creates sight — making it possible, they predict, to read printed text, recognize faces and lead normal, independent lives.
At the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San Jose, researchers on Friday described innovations in bionic vision, such as prototype prosthetics, “smart glasses” and telescopic contact lenses — all potential advances of today’s artificial retinas, which produce only sketchy, high-contrast imagery.
“Retinal implants have moved from sci-fi into reality over the last few years,” said Daniel Palanker, physicist and professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University. He is working on a retinal prosthesis that works like solar panels on a roof, converting light from goggles into electric current to trigger signals in the retina which then flow to the brain.
“Now we are in the race of improving resolution, improving image processing, dynamic range (of light intensity) and levels of gray — and will keep improving,” he said.
For people like Palo Alto attorney Dean Lloyd, improvements are long overdue. With his 7-year-old implants, made by the Sylmar biotech company Second Sight Medical Products Inc., he can see boundaries and borders. But he yearns to see more. And he must constantly move his head to detect the contrast within his visual field, which is tiring.
“They offered me something, because I had nothing. I saw, basically, just darkness,” said Lloyd, speaking from his law office in Palo Alto. His implants make it possible to select white socks when he’s headed to the gym and dark socks for days in court. He can even distinguish gray socks from black ones, he said.
“But it’s the Model T Ford. It is a good first shot but needs refinement,” said Lloyd, who also is trained as a biochemist and software engineer. He lost his vision to the retinal disease retinitis pigmentosa, which affects 100,000 Americans, including California political giant Willie Brown.
At the conference, Palanker described his technology that — in animals, at least — offers better vision than existing devices. Specifically, it is a tiny silicon chip covered with pseudo-photoreceptors — light-sensitive diodes — injected under the retina. Goggles pulse light onto the retina. The disease may rob the retina of one layer of cells, but the device can stimulate others……..
Read more:
Source: Mercury News