About 15 million people worldwide suffer from retinal dystrophy -- a disease that causes degeneration of the eye's photoreceptors and eventually leads to blindness. But a new scientific advance reported by New Science may eventually reverse the disease's effects, and is already producing promising results:
Eberthart Zrenner and colleagues at the University of Tübingen in Germany have developed a microchip carrying 1500 photosensitive diodes that slides into the retina where the photoreceptors would normally be. The diodes respond to light, and when connected to an outside power source through a wire into the eye, can stimulate the nearby nerves that normally pass signals to the brain, mimicking healthy photoreceptors.
The team reports that their first three volunteers could all locate bright objects. One could recognize normal objects and read large words.