Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New retinal implant enables blind people to see shapes and objects

Date:
November 3, 2010
Source:
Royal Society
Summary:
Researchers in Germany have developed a retinal implant that has allowed three blind people to see shapes and objects within days of the implant being installed. One blind person was even able to identify and find objects placed on a table in front of him, as well as walking around a room independently and approaching people, reading a clock face and differentiating seven shades of gray. The device represents an unprecedented advance in electronic visual prostheses and could eventually revolutionize the lives of up 200,000 people worldwide who suffer from blindness as a result of retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease.

Functional scheme of subretinal implants.
Credit: Retina Implant AG

Research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B reveals that a group of researchers based in Germany have developed a retinal implant that has allowed three blind people to see shapes and objects within days of the implant being installed.

One blind person was even able to identify and find objects placed on a table in front of him, as well as walking around a room independently and approaching people, reading a clock face and differentiating seven shades of grey. The device, which has been developed by the company Retinal Implant AG together with the Institute for Ophthalmic Research at the University of Tuebingen, represents an unprecedented advance in electronic visual prostheses and could eventually revolutionise the lives of up 200,000 people worldwide who suffer from blindness as a result of retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease.

In this disease light receptors in the eye cease to function. Writing in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Prof. Dr. Eberhart Zrenner (founding Director of Retinal Implant AG and Director and Chairman of the University of Tuebingen Eye Hospital) states that "The results of this pilot study provide strong evidence that the visual functions of patients blinded by a hereditary retinal dystrophy can, in principle, be restored to a degree sufficient for use in daily life."

The device -- known as a subretinal implant -- sits underneath the retina, directly replacing light receptors lost in retinal degeneration. As such, it uses the eyes' natural image processing capabilities beyond the light detection stage to produce a visual perception in the patient that is stable and follows their eye movements. Other types of retinal implants -- known as epiretinal implants -- sit outside the retina and because they bypass the intact light-sensitive structures in the eyes they require the user to wear an external camera and processor unit.

The subretinal implant described in this paper achieves unprecedented clarity because it has a great deal more light receptors than other similar devices. As Prof. Dr. Zrenner states, "The present study...presents proof-of-concept that such devices can restore useful vision in blind human subjects, even though the ultimate goal of broad clinical application will take time to develop."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eberhart Zrenner, Karl Ulrich Bartz-Schmidt, Heval Benav, Dorothea Besch, Anna Bruckmann, Veit-Peter Gabel, Florian Gekeler, Udo Greppmaier, Alex Harscher, Steffen Kibbel, Johannes Koch, Akos Kusnyerik, Tobias Peters, Katarina Stingl, Helmut Sachs, Alfred Stett, Peter Szurman, Barbara Wilhelm, Robert Wilke. Subretinal electronic chips allow blind patients to read letters and combine them to words. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2010; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.1747

Cite This Page:

Royal Society. "New retinal implant enables blind people to see shapes and objects." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101103123255.htm>.
Royal Society. (2010, November 3). New retinal implant enables blind people to see shapes and objects. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101103123255.htm
Royal Society. "New retinal implant enables blind people to see shapes and objects." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101103123255.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) Conjoined twins Emmett and Owen Ezell were separated by doctors in August. Now, nearly nine months later, they're being released from the hospital. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins