DETROIT (WWJ) It may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but artificial vision for the blind is becoming a reality.
Trials are under way at several medical facilities across the country where a device is implanted into the eyes or brain that allows a blind person to have at least partial vision, according to Dr. Phillip Hessburg, medical director at the Detroit Institute of Ophthamology at Henry Ford Health System.
“If you’re totally blind and you have a device which allows you to walk around a room without stumbling over the sofa or that allows you to know that it’s day and not night, that’s a gigantic step forward,” he said.
The devices being tested have great promise to change lives, Dr. Hessburg said.
An artificial retina device was given approval by the FDA for implementation a year ago. According to the New York Times, it allows previously blind people to don special glasses and head out on their own, able to see crosswalks, people and cars.
“The eyeglass camera captures images, which the video processor translates into pixelized patterns of light and dark, and transmits them to the electrodes. The electrodes then send them to the brain,” the Times reported.
What’s the next step?
“They want to recognize faces, they want to read and they want to drive,” Dr. Hessburg said about what the blind are looking forward to getting from technology.