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Research into Blindness Cure Goes Digital

Researchers from Glasgow University have used technology developed for digital cameras to develop electronic implants to cure two common forms of blindness//, age related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

According to Dr Keith Mathieson, from the Glasgow University's physics department, the objective of implanting such an electronic device is to act as a mechanical retina that could "fool" the brain into thinking that the eye is still working.

He said, "Blindness is often caused by the light cells at the back of the eye dying off, but by implanting a microelectronic device into the eye, we hope we will be able to fool the brain into believing the retina, which converts light into signals that are sent to the brain, is still in working order."

Mathieson also added, "Advances in microelectronics have allowed us to develop a retinal prosthesis - a small device to be implanted on the retina itself. The device would contain an imaging detector with hundreds of pixels coupled to an array of microscopic stimulating electrodes. If light forms an image on the detector, then the result will be electrical stimulation of the retina in the shape of this image."

Dr Mathieson also stated that these stimulated cells could then send the information via the optic nerve to the brain and that the imaging part of the system is based upon the technology which is used in any digital camera.

Dr James Morrison from the university's neuroscience and biomedical systems department is also working with Dr Mathieson on this project

Age related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa affect around one million people in the UK.


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