Technion University researchers have announced they are developing a new process that might be able to restore vision to the blind by using a special projector that works around the damaged retina.
In an article in Nature Communications this week, the researchers explained they have developed a light-sensitive protein that is injected into the eyes of the cell and that images are then placed back on a special projector, based on a new science called Optogenetics.
The research team, headed by Prof. Shai Shoham, emphasized that there still is a long way to go before the process can b e perfected and marketed, but added it is a first step towards restoring sight for eyes damaged by some diseases.
Artificial stimulation of surviving nerve cells offers a potential strategy for overcoming situations when photoreception is disrupted, as in outer-retinal degenerative diseases,” according to the team.
“We provide the first demonstration of holographic photo-stimulation strategies for bionic vision restoration,” they wrote.
Prof. Shoham explained that the protein allows the absorption of sight into the cells in the eye and is inserted into the cells to make them sensitive to light.
Technically, the blind cannot see with their eyes but can view images through a projector, just like a computer can be made to function even though a mouse or keyboard is inoperative.