Zen and the Art of Photovoltaic Retinal Prosthesis
We live in an amazing age! Little more than a century ago, medical maladies that were permanent, and many times deadly afflictions, abounded across the human landscape. Things that we take for granted like polio, measles, rubella and typhoid fever were all deadly and took thousands of lives each year. Now, children receive vaccinations for these illnesses and never have to be concerned with the probability of contracting these viruses.
Medical science has advanced so much so that organs and some organ systems can be transplanted while prosthetics are available that respond in nearly identical ways to the original limb. One such medical breakthrough is the photovoltaic retinal prosthesis.
The what? Yeah, that’s a mouthful but it’s basically a replacement part for eyes that no longer see. The intent is to help cure things like "work on electronic restoration of sight to patients suffering from degenerative retinal diseases such as Retinitis Pigmentosa and Age-Related Macular Degeneration."
Daniel Palanker of Stanford University explains it this way:
Data stream from a video camera is processed by a pocket PC, and the resulting images are displayed on a head-mounted microdisplay, similar to video goggles. From the microdisplay the images are projected onto retina using pulsed (1-10 ms) near-infrared (~900 nm) light. These light pulses are photovoltaically converted into bi-phasic pulses of electric current flowing between the active and return electrode in each pixel, which stimulates the nearby inner retinal neurons, and thereby introduces visual information into the retinal neural network.
In other words, a camera mounted to a pair of glasses sends electrical impulses to the cornea of your eye, which acts like a television screen. Think of it as the same sort of technology that a news crew at a television station uses to broadcast a live feed from a remote location except that you don’t need a TV because your eye is the TV.
Palanker writes about this on the Stanford website as "restoring sight to the blind."
Join us this Sunday as we look into how God is restoring sight to those who cannot see.