New Research Shows Possible Cure for Blindness
New research could eventually lead to a cure for some types of blindness - in fact, a new technique has helped some blind mice to see again.
Scientists at Cornell University in New York have developed a prosthetic retina that has helped mice who were blind to see again. Dr. Ryan Prall, assistant professor of opthalmology at IU's Glick Eye Institute, says the prosthetic is essentially a microchip which, like the retina, sends signals to the brains of the blind mice, allowing their brains to develop the images.
Work on prosthetic retinas has been going on for more than two decades, and a type of prosthetic retina is currently approved for use in humans in Europe. Prall says the difference in this latest research at Cornell is that the signals developed by the microchip make more sense to the retina as opposed to the brain, theoretically producing a sharper image. He says this could potentially help people with retinal damage, such as those with macular degeneration, to regain lost eyesight.
While we are likely years from such technology being approved for humans in the U.S., Prall says the Cornell researchers are working with the scientists who developed the prosthetic retina used in Europe to enhance the technology, and perhaps make it available for people in the States sooner. Research in the U-S will most likely focus next on monkeys, since their retinas are similar to those in humans.