November 3, 2010
Successful Trial For Implant Designed To Fight Blindness
A new implant designed to help the blind has allowed three test patients to see the shapes of objects just days after they were fitted with the device, research published in the British scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B has revealed.
The implants, which were developed by engineers at German's University of Tuebingen and medical technology firm Retina Implant AG, represent "an unprecedented advance in electronic visual prostheses" and could "eventually revolutionize the lives of up to 200,000 people worldwide who suffer from blindness" as a result of a condition known as retinitis pigmentosa, the authors of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B wrote in comments reprinted by AFP on Wednesday.
In a telephone interview with Kate Kelland of Reuters, Eberhart Zrenner, the chairman of the University of Tuebingen's Eye Hospital and director of Retinal Implant AG, called the results of the trial "proof of concept" and said that they illustrated that the implants can provide people "with enough useful vision for daily life." He also told Kelland that the company now planned to expand the trials to include somewhere between 25 and 50 total patients throughout Europe.
According to the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) MedlinePlus website, retinitis pigmentosa is an eye disease which damages the layer of tissue located in the back of the inner eye, damaging the optical receptor's ability to convert light images to nerve signals and sent them to the brain. It typically is an inherited genetic defect, and symptoms include decreased night or low-light vision and loss of peripheral vision. The condition affects one in every 4,000 Americans, according to the NIH.
On the Net:
- Proceedings of the Royal Society B
- University of Tuebingen
- Retina Implant AG
- Retinitis Pigmentosa (MedlinePlus)