Brain implants allow blind people to partially recover vision
A team of scientists from the University of California and Baylor College of Medicine in Texas has developed new technology that can partially return vision to people who cannot see. Named Orion, the system works from electrodes that are implanted in the patient's brain and receive images captured through a small video camera attached to a pair of glasses.
Although our eyes are essential for us to see, the truth is that sight is incredibly complex and it is the brain that does most of the work. This is because the visual stimuli that are captured by our eyes are projected onto the retina and converted from it into neural signals that are transmitted by the optic nerve to the brain - which decodes the information and transforms it into images.
For the method being devised by scientists is to implant 60 electrodes directly into the visual cortex, the brain region responsible for receiving and processing visual stimuli. These devices, in turn, get the information captured by the camera attached to the glasses, converting it into specific patterns that are transmitted to the cortex, and the interesting thing is that the system works independently of the optic nerves, which means it doesn't matter if those of patients do not work or are damaged.
According to scientists, although the technology is still in the development phase, the results have been really good. So far, 6 people have undergone electrode implantation and, according to the neurosurgeons team, patients have begun to identify objects and know where they are located - through the perception of bright spots.
Regarding the current limitations of the system, the researchers explained that although the people who received the implants cannot clearly distinguish their surroundings, yet the partial view provided by the new technology allows them to detect basic shapes and thus gain more autonomy and better control. independence to meet everyday challenges - which is a huge advance for those who can see absolutely nothing.
With regard to expectations for the future, scientists have revealed that theoretically a substantial increase in the number of electrodes could lead to greater brain stimulation and thus to sharper, more accurate imaging. Therefore, there is the possibility to improve the technology or, from it, develop new devices.