Integration of technology and neuroscience has now made it possible to impart vision to individuals suffering from blindness. Scientists around the world are trying to use the principles of neurotechnology and other fields of sciences in order to develop devices that can mimic the human eye so that blind people can be benefited.
Described below are some important innovations that have been made in this area and how neurotechnology is helping blindness.
1. Eye-pod: This is a device that has been developed by Neurotech, a Rhode Island based biotech firm. Using their proprietary Encapsulated Cell Technology, scientists and engineers at this institute have come out with a porous membrane that is filled with genetically modified human retinal cells capable of secreting a protein called as ciliary neurotrophic factor. This protein is known to protect the eye. This device has to be surgically implanted into the eye.
2. Another major innovation developed by engineers and scientists at Optobionics, Illinois, is a sensory device or a chip that can be surgically implanted into the eye. This device is based on the thought of integrating electronic devices directly into the human body. Known as Artificial Silicon Retina (ASR), this device is actually a 2mm wide silicon chip containing thousand of photovoltaic solar cells. These cells are capable of converting external light into electric currents that are capable of stimulating retinal cells in the eye.
3. Second Sight is another biotech firm based in California. Scientists at this organization have developed an electrode array that when implanted in the eye captures images by means of its small camera. These images are then processed and transferred to the electronic implant device present in the eye. This device then electronically stimulates the retina.