Back in 2015, Allen Zderad, a legally blind man from Minnesota, received a retinal prosthesis which gave him the opportunity to see again for the first time in a decade.
What Caused the Man’s Blindness?
Zderad, a patient at the Mayo Clinic, is affected by retinitis pigmentosa.
Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited condition that causes the degeneration of specific cells in the retina called photoreceptors. Unfortunately, in addition to causing poor vision at night, retinitis pigmentosa can also advance to complete vision loss.
How Does the Eye Implant Work?
The eye implant that Zderad received works by bypassing the damaged retina and sending light wave signals directly to the optic nerve. There is a small chip attached to the back of the eye.
The system also includes special glasses and a computer worn in a belt pack.
The prosthesis enables the recipient to see shapes, light, and closer objects. In this case when the device was activated, Zderad was able to see his wife again for the first time in ten years. It was a very dramatic moment.
Progress, But Not Perfection
At this time, recipients of the prosthesis cannot see details of faces or read. Of the device, Zderad said:
It’s crude, but it’s significant.
And researchers agree. This technology takes a big step forward.
Researchers believe that in time adjustments to the device will extend the technology to create more functional vision that’s much closer to way human’s see without such devices.