The Blind May See - In The Dark

A number of companies and research laboratories are working on optical prostheses; devices that are actually implanted in the eye of a person who is unable to see. Diseases like macular degeneration, in which ise retina starts to peel away from the back of the eye, may be ameliorated by implanted devices that stimulate the retina electronically.


(From Diagram of the Eye - NIH)

A serious limitation of the devices used so far, which rely on a video signal translated into a small matrix of dots, is that it is difficult for patients to "see" reliably with the devices. They see shapes far better than fine details, like the print of a newspaper.

One optical prosthesis makes use of microbolometers that are able to detect far-infrared radation. Recent advances allow such devices to work at room temperatures. This sensor responds to heat energy; its information is combined with visible light picked up by sensors in a special pair of glasses worn by the patient.

The advantage of bringing far-infrared radiation into the device for the patient is that it works in very low light conditions where contrast is poor. Objects of different temperatures would stand out clearly.

In a two-hour operation, the patient's intraocular lens is removed, and the light sensing device is put in its place. This light sensor is about twice the size of a match head. The back of the sensor is connected to a polymer filament embedded with wires. The filament terminates at a small disk with controls and an array of electrodes, which translate the information from the sensors into electrical signals which are perceived by the retina.

The end result is that a blind person with this device could actually see a black cat in a coal cellar at midnight, using the cat's body heat.

Science fiction author Bruce Sterling wrote about optic television in his 1984 story Twenty Evocations:

"It was astonishing how much room there was in an eye socket, when you stopped to think about it... Nikolai had some other devices installed: a clock, a biofeedback monitor..." (More)

See Vision Quest for more details.

Note: I had one reader object to this article, implying that this just gives false hope to people who have a real disease. This story was not intended to be funny, or cute. (Yes, it does have a striking - but true - title.) It is about a real company that is using solid science to solve a real problem. This story was taken primarily from a reputable online magazine. It is true that this magazine is not a peer-reviewed medical journal. However, I checked out the company quoted as using far-infrared technology; they do have a website representing an incorporated business. The company is Advanced Medical Electronics Corporation. Their website includes full contact information, including the names, phone numbers and email addresses of people you can talk with in their company. The website also states that their technologies were developed with support from the National Institute of Health.

On my site, I have lots of fun with science fiction, which can be irreverent or serious at the whim of the writer. I think I'm usually pretty serious about science, though - and I don't joke about subjects like this. -ed..

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/12/2004)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 9 )

Related News Stories - (" Medical ")

TytoCare Offers Futuristic Home Care
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...' - EM Forster, 1909.

Would You Swallow An Origami Robot?
'Swallow it in an emergency--it goes down easily and works just as well inside as outside.' - Doc Smith, 1934.

Biotech Firms Raised $Millions For Anti-Agathics (Longevity Drugs)
'Against Death doth no simple grow.' - James Blish, 1957.

Medical Tattoos Are STILL Being Researched
'Following the current craze, she has had a subdermal pattern of micro-channels implanted.'

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

TytoCare Offers Futuristic Home Care
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'

Powdered Regolith Propulsion
'... filling their great tanks with the finely divided dust which the ionic rockets would spit out in electrified jets.'

Ford's SafeCap, Opposite Of Niven and Barnes' Napcap
'In the napcap a client became an instant yoga master...'

Would You Get 'Chipped'? Michigan May Ban Employers
'Employees above a certain level were implanted with advanced microprocessors...'

Tesla Autopilot: What Does An Autonomous Car See When It Looks At The Road?
'Jeremiah is a sports-model to begin with and that kind is awfully hot-tempered.'

DNA Controls Swarms Of Molecular Robots
'They exist in loose swarms...'

Tether Asteroids To Save Us All
'If anything can glue the asteroids back into the planet they once were, magnology will do it.'

Blaux Your Personal Commuter Cooling Unit
A cooling unit had to be strapped to every commuter's back, by law.

3D Printed Damascus Steel Now Possible
'...lined with durite, that strange close-packed laboratory product.'

R9X Hellfire Missile With Long Blades Kills Queda Leader
'He was still roaring when the knife missile flicked past him...'

Would You Swallow An Origami Robot?
'Swallow it in an emergency--it goes down easily and works just as well inside as outside.'

Perhaps You Might Be Interested In Habitable Exoplanet Moon Real Estate
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Blurry Face Photos Made 60 Times Sharper
Perfect tool for blade runners.

SpaceX Will Build Floating Spaceports!
'...a single perfectly level platform, which rose so high above the water that it was not splashed by the waves.'

Fast Radio Bursts And Space Beacons For Interstellar Navigation
'Every beacon has a code signal as part of its radiation...'

Robot Garbage Trucks Visualized
'It was a bulky, shining cylinder over twenty metres long.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.