from the urls-we-dig-up dept
The visually impaired are a sizable group of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Some vision problems are easily corrected with glasses or contacts or various kinds of laser-based eye surgery. However, some retinal problems are much more difficult (or impossible) to treat. Retinal surgery isn’t fun at all, but it can be the preferred option when given the choice between blindness and some amount of vision. Check out a few of these developments that could help people see a little bit more.
- A prosthetic retina made from carbon nanotubes embedded in a flexible film could help restore vision to low-vision people someday. Researchers have tested this on lab animals and observed an ability to stimulate neurons — which is a promising first step. [url]
- A 1.55 millimeter-thick contact lens system can activate a “zoom” function when the person wearing them winks. These contacts need to be paired with smart glasses to detect the winking and provide the telescopic zoom, so it’s probably not something people with 20/20 vision would want, but for people who have reduced eyesight (or folks who just like supervision gadgets), this could be really useful. [url]
- Another kind of prosthetic retina has infrared-sensitive tiles (like CCD pixels) and a pair of glasses beaming a live infrared video feed onto them — that stimulate nerves and ideally reproduce some kind of vision. Any kind of artificial retina implant needs to be unpowered (or powered wirelessly) because no one wants to have invasive eye surgery to charge batteries (or have the risk of an uncontrolled electrical discharge in an eye), so zapping retinas with infrared light seems like a reasonable solution — especially if the pixel resolution can get close to 20/100 vision in an otherwise blind person. [url]
Bionic eyes are going to take a long time to develop, so in the meantime, check out this holiday gift guide for some awesome deals at the Techdirt deals store.