Story at a glance
- A blind man in his 50s was able to recognize shapes after receiving a new treatment.
- In that process, the subject receives an injection that inserts a gene into the eye that improves the light sensitivity of cells in the retina.
- Next, the subject dons high-tech goggles that activate and magnify light to increase the retina’s cells’ ability to send electrical signals to the brain.
It is not as easy as it seems, but doctors have found a way to make some of those impaired by blindness be able to see again, at least partially.
For those suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, disorders that cause progressive vision loss usually affecting the retina, which is the layer of light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, the solution may be an early-stage clinical technical procedure, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, scientists described how a man in his 50s who was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa more than 40 years ago was able to recognize shapes after receiving optogenetic therapies. In that process, the subject receives an injection that inserts a gene into the eye that improves the light sensitivity of cells in the retina. Next, the subject dons high-tech goggles that activate and magnify light to increase the retina’s cells’ ability to send electrical signals to the brain.
In March, a New York City-based company called Bionic Sight LLC said it has four blind people in its early-stage clinical trial who are able to detect light and motion after undergoing a similar treatment. However, the results have not yet been published.
Regardless of the specific gene mutation that underlies it, optogenetics is described to be “gene-agnostic,” said Brian Brooks, a clinical director for the National Eye Institute – meaning that it is a treatment of all forms of blindness caused by retinitis pigmentosa.
Optogenetic therapy works around the detective photoreceptors, sensory cells that respond to light, using the injected gene to give out light sensitivity to the ganglion cells that respond to the goggles’ light source.
The idea of people regaining their sight through cyber optic advancement is closer than one could imagine.
In fact, a bionic eye may soon become a normal procedure.
As Changing America previously reported, researchers at the University of Southern California at the Keck School of Medicine have created a “bionic eye” for those who lost their sight from degenerative eye diseases.
The Argus II is a microscopic supercomputer implanted into people who have visually impaired eyes. The premise of the device is to help them recognize shapes and patterns, giving them the ability to partially see once more, a newsletter at USC reads.
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