A retinal implant has given a brief glimpse of light to a small number of blind people, and could one day be a common treatment for vision loss due to injury or disease.
Shawn Kelly, a senior systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, has developed a computer chip that translates camera images into electrical pulses that the nerves inside the brain can understand. The result is vision.
The cameras are incredibly small and mounted to a pair of glasses. The digital information picked up from the camera is sent along a wire to a thin film surgically implanted in the back of the patient’s eye, between the sclera and the retina. The electrical signals stimulate the nerves in the retina, and that allows the patient to see. The system is powered via induction — not much current is necessary since the electric field doesn’t have to penetrate far into the head.