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Subretinal implant successfully tested on humans, makes blind narrowly see

Sean Hollister
03.20.10
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How many scientists does it take to properly install a lightbulb? When that lightbulb is an implant that stimulates retinal photoreceptors to restore one's sight, quite a few -- even if they disagree whether said implant should be placed on top of the retina (requiring glasses to supply power and video feed) or underneath, using photocells to channel natural sunlight. Now, a German firm dubbed Retina Implant has scored a big win for the subretinal solution with a three-millimeter, 1,500 pixel microchip that gives patients a 12 degree field of view. Conducting human trials with 11 patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, the company successfully performed operations on seven, with one even managing to distinguish between similar objects (knife, fork, spoon) and perform very basic reading. Though usual disclaimers apply -- the tech is still a long way off, it only works on folks who've slowly lost their vision, etc. -- this seems like a step in the right direction, and at least one man now knows which direction that is.

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