In the second phase of trials involving 9 patients who had lost their sight to the hereditary disease retinitis pigmentosa, 5 have found that the retinal implants have improved their eyesight sufficiently to be useful in everyday life. Following on from this German trial more people have since been fitted with the implants in Oxford, London, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The implants stand in for defunct cells by detecting light rays and converting them into electrical pulses, which are transmitted along the optic nerve to the brain. They are powered wirelessly from a battery concealed in clothing. Brightness can be adjusted for differing lighting conditions using a dial worn behind the ear.
These are still early days for this procedure, but patients will be monitored for a year in the hope that the device will help to improve their vision further.
photo by: Greyson Orlando