General, Research, Technology

Can partial blindness be cured? Researchers believe that yes

In an article in Current magazineBiology, scientists from Stanford University (USA) and Bar-Ilan University (Israel) shared the result of an amazing discovery, indicating that the brain “knows” how to combine natural and artificial vision, supporting the processing of information necessary to see. We are talking about implanting an artificial retina in patients who suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) - one of the most common diseases of the organs of vision in the world.

Eye of a person suffering from AMD

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) isan eye disease that deprives elderly patients of central vision. The loss of visual acuity occurs as a result of damage to cells in the macula - the central part of the retina, due to which the human eye can distinguish colors, read and write, and also distinguish between small particles and details. As a rule, patients suffering from AMD do not completely lose their vision - they still have a peripheral field of view. This is what allowed researchers from Stanford and Bar-Ilan to find evidence that the brain really knows how to combine these two types of vision.

How does brain and implant collaboration bring back vision?

As scientists write in their work, in the case ofserious damage caused by AMD can be implanted with a synthetic retina into the layers of photoreceptors in the biological retina of patients. The artificial retina consists of incredibly small electrodes (smaller in diameter than human hair). The activation of these electrodes leads to electrical stimulation of the surviving retinal cells, which, in turn, leads to a partial restoration of vision.

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AMD patients with implanted artificialthe retina supports a mixture of synthetic central vision (created by the artificial retina) and normal peripheral vision (created by biological eyes). In the future, scientists need to study in detail the joint work of artificial and natural vision if they want to understand how to treat blindness. The main problem here is whether our brain is able to adequately combine artificial and natural vision.

The damaged macular area of ​​the retina looks like this

According to Universal-Sci, Tamar Arens-Arad, oneof the researchers, stated that they used a unique projection system that stimulated natural vision, artificial vision, or a combination of both, while recording cortical reactions in rodents that had an artificial retina implanted.

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According to the lead author of the study,Professor Yossi Mandel, the results will help restore vision in patients with AMD, and may also affect future research in the field of joint work of the brain and implants. Agree, it will be quite interesting to know if we can combine artificial and natural processes to help people in the future. In any case, the work of scientists gives hope to people suffering from diseases of the organs of vision today and this cannot but rejoice.