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Scientists have developed an 'extremely promising' technology that could one day help blind people see light.
Millions of people worldwide are unable to see anything. Although this is often due to faults in the retina, only a few hundred qualify for retinal implants.
Retina - Back - Eye - Images - Nerve
The retina is at the back of the eye and picks up on images the optic nerve then converts into impulses. These are sent to the brain, where a picture is formed.
Researchers from Switzerland and Italy delivered an electric current directly to the optic nerve of rabbits via an electrode called OpticSELINE.
Animals - Cortex - Region - Brain - Information
This stimulated the animals' visual cortex, the region of the brain where information from the retinas is processed.
It is unclear whether this would enable a blind person to see, but proves the technology's 'potential', the researchers claim
Technology - Teams - Polytechnique - Fédérale - Lausanne
The technology was created by teams at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, and Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Italy.
Around 39million people in the world are blind, the researchers wrote in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Vision - Loss - Infection - Inflammation - Detachment
Vision loss caused by infection, inflammation or retinal detachment, when it comes loose, can often be treated.
Retinal implants have been suggested for the genetic disorder retinitis pigmentosa, which occurs when cells in the retina break down. This affects half-a-million people worldwide.
Procedure - Cells - Implants - Cells - Signal
The procedure involves replacing damaged retinal cells with electronic implants that stimulate the remaining healthy cells to produce a signal along the optic nerve.
This requires a small cut in the eye, with no guarantee of good vision. It is not available on the...
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