Quick Hits: New Implant Bypasses Eyes to Help The Blind See

Researchers have developed a device that plugs directly into the brain to give blind people rudimentary vision.

In Elche Spain, there’s a neuroengineer named Eduardo Fernandez who has a lofty goal: to bring vision back to the 36 million blind people around the world. A recent MIT Technology Review article discussed his method, which involves glasses outfitted with cameras and a jack that go directly to the brain. Earlier solutions to blindness focused on creating an artificial eye or retina, which only worked for people who didn't have damage to the nerve system that connects the retina to the back of the brain.

Fernandez’s solution solves the issue by bypassing the eyes and feeding signals directly to the brain. The first patient to undergo the brain surgery to implant the device had it for just 6 months because it isn’t approved for long term use. However, the results were promising, and within the next two years, five more patients will receive the implant. Currently, it only generates a 10 x 10 pixel resolution, which allows the patient to perceive basic shapes. 

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