Camera tech helps blind to see

Camera tech helps blind to see
Pioneering surgery has allowed two British patients to see again after years of complete blindness

A clinical trial using technology similar to that found in mobile phone cameras has enabled two previously blind patients to perceive light and shapes.

The men are taking part in a clinical trial at the Oxford University Eye Hospital and King's College Hospital in London.

A condition called retinitis pigmentosa was responsible for the loss of vision, which gradually causes photoreceptor cells at the back of the eye to deteriorate.

It marks the first time a completely blind British patient has been able to have some vision restored.

Now, a 3mm square microelectronic chip which features 1,500 light-sensitive pixels has been fitted to take over the function of the photoreceptor cells. The chip is similar to those found on board mobile phone cameras.


Electronic signals from the chip are sent to the optic nerve, which are then transmitted to the brain to be interpreted.

The chip works by providing the brain with flashes of light, as opposed to conventional vision, and works in black and white rather than colour.

At the moment vision is still pretty limited, but shapes, silhouettes and lights can be seen. It marks the first time that a previously completely blind British patient has been able to see something.

Although currently just a clinical trial, the surgeons will be fitting up to a dozen British patients with the implants, which could then be used as part of a regular treatment for those with the disease. Unfortunately, it is not anticipated that the same process will work for people with other forms of blindness.

via BBC News

Amy Davies

Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar.