Efforts to develop a “bionic” eye to restore sight to the blind or those who have partial vision loss continue among researchers, and scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working on their own version. They recently developed a prototype of a retinal implant that could restore some vision to people who were blinded by retinitis pigmentosa or by age-related macular degeneration, which are two of the leading causes of blindness.
This is how the implant works: The patient wears glasses that have a camera attached to them. The camera sends images to a ring-like structure that surrounds the exterior of the eyeball and is attached to a microchip that is attached to the side of the eyeball. The ring sends the images to the microchip, and the microchip transmits the data to electrodes that are embedded below the retina. The electrodes send this information to the brain. The images wouldn’t be sharp, but they could at least enable patients to walk a hallway alone. MIT plans to test the prototype in blind patients within 3 years.