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Artificial Retina, Video Camera Give Partial Vision to Blind

• Bloomberg.com

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- A miniature video camera in the center of his eyeglass frames and tiny electrodes implanted at the back of his right eye allow Dean Lloyd to see lights and shapes, more than 30 years after he lost his vision.

Lloyd is one of 32 blind people testing the Argus II system from Second Sight Medical Products Inc., a closely held company based in Sylmar, California. Ten of 15 users of the device identified the direction of a moving line on a computer screen in a study presented today at a science meeting in Chicago.

About 200,000 people in the U.S. and Europe suffer from retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that damages the retina and steals their vision. The Argus II used by Lloyd transmits visual information to the electrodes on his retina, reactivating dormant neural pathways and allowing him to see outlines and bursts of light.

“I see boundaries and edges but not images,” Lloyd said, moving his head -- and his camera -- to scan the face of a visitor. “Your eyes look like flashes of light.”

 

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