Neuroscientist Doctor Sheila Nirenberg has given hope to millions of visually-impaired people around the globe by restoring vision to blind mice. Nirenberg has given the mice enough sight to track squirrels and distinguish a baby’s face. Better yet, she believes her technique can be tested on humans in as little as two years. The best part? She believes the blind will have their sight restored via Geordi La Forge visors.

The glasses contain a tiny video camera and a computer chip and they could restore sight to someone’s who lost theirs due to a degenerative eye disease. When afflicted with these types of diseases, damage is done to parts of the retina used to detect light as well as the neural pathways that attach to the retina. Fortunately, the ganglion cells, which are the cells inside the retina that communicate with the brain, are usually left intact. The tech used in the glasses bypasses the damaged cells and goes straight for the ganglion cells. The glasses take in an image, the computer chip converts them into electrical impulses, and then those pulses are turned into light that stimulates proteins inside the ganglion cells. The ganglion cells then sends that information to your brain, which sees it as a sharp image.

What gives Nirenberg hope for restoring human sight is the progress she’s made on monkey retina, which is almost identical to human retina. This is amazing technology, but I can’t but laugh because I just pictured a monkey wearing a Geordi La Forge visor.

via Slash Gear

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