A novel device that mimics the action of retinal circuits could, within a decade, help the blind see.
Sheila Nirenberg, professor of neuroscience at Cornell University, US, told a San Diego seminar that her device “mimics the action of the front end circuitry of the retina”, (especially when they die of disease), enabling images to be fired to the brain once more.
So far, the device has only been tested on mice, but when asked if it could be adapted for humans in 10 years, she replied: “I’m hoping less.”
“I study how the brain uses patterns of electrical activity to see, to hear, to reach for an object. I’ve been starting to use what we’ve learned about these patterns of electricity to develop prosthetic devices,” Nirenberg added.
She explained that if a person has a retinal disease, there’s very little that can be done for them, with drug treatments only effective on a small number of sufferers.
There are prosthetic devices, but they only allow patients to see simple images, mainly just outlines. Nirenberg describes her device as something “that could make a difference”.