Scientists have developed a sub-retinal implant that restores vision to the blind.
In a paper, delivered on Wednesday within the Proceedings of The Royal Society B, a group of European researchers demonstrated the ability of the implant to partially restore vision to those who suffer from blindness due to a degenerative eye disease.
In a study, the chip allowed three previously blind persons to locate bright objects on a dark table. One of these people was able to distinguish between objects such as forks, knives, fruits and large geometric objects.
"Without a training period, the regained visual functions enabled him to localize and approach persons in a room freely and to read large letters as complete words after several years of blindness. These results demonstrate for the first time that subretinal micro-electrode arrays with 1500 photodiodes can create detailed meaningful visual perception in previously blind individuals," the paper said.
The implant contains an array of 1,500 light detectors that processes light as it falls into the retina of the implantee. The chip outputs a pattern of 38 by 40 pixels, where each pixel is a pulse of energy that varies depending on the intensity of the light received by the chip, according to the paper.