New Retinal Implants pins hope for artificial vision for the blind

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In ophthalmology, a new technology developed by a team of researchers at EPFL could partially restore vision in blind people. The findings of the study is published in Communication Materials.

In fact, restoring eyesight has been one of the biggest challenges for scientists. For this reason, the subject has been the focus of study of a team of researchers at the School of Engineering, EPFL. To undertake this, since 2015, the research team has been working to develop a retinal implant based on camera-fitted smart glasses and a microcomputer.

“The system is designed to provide a form of artificial intelligence for blind people. This is provided by using electrodes to nudge the retinal cells of blind people,” said the lead author of the study.

In terms of function, the camera embedded in the smart glasses seizes images in the user’s vision field, and transmits the data to a microcomputer in one of the end-pieces of the eyeglasses. With this action, the microcomputer converts the data into light signals that are sent to electrodes in the retinal implant. Following to this, the electrodes stimulate the retina in such a way that the wearer visions a simplified form of the image in black-and-white. The simplified version of the image is composed of dots of light that are seen when the retinal cells receive a stimulus.

“Nonetheless, wearers of the implant must learn to comprehend the dots in order to make out objects and shapes. An analogy is when one look at stars in the night sky – the ability to recognize specific constellations is stimulated. In the same way, blind people would see something with the system,” added the lead researcher.

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