Got this from the SeeingWithSound/vOICe mailing list. Jacob Kruger Blind Biker Skype: BlindZA '...Fate had broken his body, but not his spirit...'----- Original Message ----- Bionic eyes implanted in blind patients.
By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor, April 21 2008. Bionic eyes have been implanted in British patients for the first time offering hope to hundreds of thousands of blind people. Two blind patients underwent the procedure, which surgeons say 'is straight out of science fiction', at Moorfields Eye Hospital in central London last week and are said to be "doing well". Surgeons implanted an electronic device into the back of the eye to allow the patients to distinguish objects as pictures made up of spots of light. The device works with a tiny camera mounted in a pair of glasses which transmits a wireless signal via a small processor on a belt into a receiver and a panel of electrodes placed in the back of the eye. Three more patients will have the four-hour operation as part of an international trial before the technique is evaluated and extended. At first patients who are completely blind due to an inherited condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa are being treated but eventually it could be offered to thousands of patients as the devices are perfected. The operations were carried out by Mr Lyndon da Cruz, a consultant retinal surgeon at Moorfields. He said: "Conceptually it could be used for anyone with extremely poor vision but a physically intact optic nerve. The sort of vision we are getting is not good quality but as the thing gets better it will open up to more and more people." Earlier trials in America have shown patients can see light, shapes and movement. They were able to navigate without their stick or guide dog and distinguish between objects on a table suggesting the device could help blind people to lead independent lives. Mr da Cruz said this latest trial will help to evaluate if the technique restores enough vision for patients to rely on it alone in the long term. The Second Sight's Argus II retinal implant technology works by mimicking the eye's natural ability to absorb light and process it into a picture. A wireless signal is transmitted from the camera in the glasses to a small processing device, the size of a walkman that can be worn on a belt. It is then sent to an ultra thin electronic receiver, and electrode panel that is implanted in the eye and attached to the retina. The electrodes stimulate the remaining retinal nerves allowing a signal to be passed along the optic nerve to the brain. The brain perceives patterns of light and dark spots corresponding to which electrodes are stimulated. Mr da Cruz said the technology was extremely exciting and is a completely new way of treating eye conditions. He said: "We have been fascinated with the idea of combining electronics and the human body since the Bionic Man in the 1970s. This shows it can and is being done." Three other hospitals in Europe are taking part in the trial and by the end of the year surgeons at Moorfields hope to have treated ten patients. The devices are made by a company called Second Sight near Los Angeles in California, which was founded in 1998 to help find treatments for patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa, in which vision gradually deteriorates over the years, and similar conditions. Over two million people in the UK have significant sight loss with more than 360,000 registered as blind or partially sighted, according to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). Barbara McLauglan, Eye Health Campaign Manager at Royal National Institute for the Blind said: "We very much welcome the progress that is being made with this type of technology. While 50 per cent of sight loss can be prevented, we must not forget that there are conditions that cannot be treated at present such as dry age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. "An improved bionic eye that allows blind people to see more of their surroundings will improve their mobility and quality of life. RNIB will continue to monitor progress in this area with great interest over the next few years." Source URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/earth/2008/04/21/scieye121.xml ---------- To send a message to the list, send any message to blindza@xxxxxxxxxxxxx ---------- To unsubscribe from this list, send a message to blindza-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the subject line --- The 'homepage' for this list is at http://www.blindza.co.za