Researchers restore partial vision to the blind via brain implant

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Doctors have restored partial sight to six blind people by using an implant that sends video images directly to the brain.

Researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine and UCLA are collaborating to test the Orion device, which consists of a brain implant with 60 electrodes, and a pair of glasses with a camera to capture images.

According to Second Sight, the company that created the device, the brain implant is put on the surface of the visual cortex, where it will receive deciphered information from the camera wirelessly.

The gadget is able to bypass the eye and the optic nerve, which usually sends sensory information to the brain, reports The Guardian.

In a medical trial, six patients with acquired blindness were asked to look at a black computer screen while using the Orion device, and pinpoint the location of a white square that appears at different times.

Researchers said the participants were able to identify the location of the square the majority of the time.

Daniel Yosher, chair and professor of neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine, explained in a news release that the device will not work for those born blind, since the parts of their brain that process sight have not fully developed.

It is only suitable for those born with the ability to see and went blind at a later age. This is because their visual cortices are intact, just not stimulated because the eye is not receiving any information.

Yosher explained that for these patients with acquired blindness, there is potential to directly activate the neurons responsible for seeing, in order to restore functional sight.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. The Orion device
2. How the brain implant works
3. How the eye and optic nerve transmits sensory information to the brain in normal circumstances
4. A blind participant identifying a white square

VOICEOVER (in English):
"Researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine and UCLA are collaborating to test the Orion device, which consists of a brain implant with 60 electrodes, and a pair of glasses with a camera to capture images."

"According to Second Sight, the company that created the device, the brain implant is put on the surface of the visual cortex, where it will receive deciphered information from the camera wirelessly."

"The Guardian reports that the gadget is able to bypass the eye and the optic nerve, which usually sends sensory information to the brain."

"In a medical trial, six patients with acquired blindness were asked to look at a black computer screen while using the Orion device, and pinpoint the location of a white square that appears at different times."

"Researchers said the participants were able to identify the location of the square the majority of the time."

SOURCES: The Guardian, Baylor College of Medicine, Second Sight,
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jul/13/brain-implant-restores-partial-vision-to-blind-people
https://blogs.bcm.edu/2019/07/11/from-the-labs-orion-turns-on-a-light-in-the-dark-for-the-blind/
https://www.bcm.edu/news/neurosurgery/second-sight-study-brings-sight-to-blind
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AISQvV0ifYw&feature=youtu.be
https://www.secondsight.com/