Bionic Eye in Sight

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Bionic eye in sight, according to a report in BBC News, 5 Apr 2005. A team of scientists at John Hopkins University, Baltimore are hoping to begin clinical trials of an electronic implant they have invented that can restore partial sight to people who have gone blind due to degenerative diseases such as macular degeneration. The device consists of a tiny camera built into a pair of glasses that beams images to a computer chip implanted behind the eye. The computer chip converts the images to electrical impulses which are then sent to the brain via the optic nerve. The images produced are rather fuzzy but should enable the wearer to move about in unfamiliar places, avoiding obstacles and finding doorways, furniture, etc., after they have had some training in interpreting the images. Gislin Dagnelie, who leads the team, commented: "To us the images look very basic, but for someone who was previously blind they are a massive step forward." He added "There is still quite a lot of work that will be needed to fine tune it. Being able to see faces will be quite a bit down the line."

Editorial Comment: At the risk of repeating ourselves - let us re-emphasise that the implant developed by John Hopkins scientists reminds us that vision takes more than a functioning eye. Their implant is only useful if it can send signals to the optic nerve that the brain can compare against a data base and interpret. This is why the scientists plan to use the artificial eye in people whose brains have seen in the past, and are capable of learning to interpret the fuzzy images produced by the device. The fact that it took a team of clever scientists and engineers to build an artificial eye is good evidence that a real eye producing complex unfuzzy images was created, and did not evolve by mindless chance process. (ref vision, sight, mind)

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