In what can be considered as a break-through, Sandia National Laboratories (U.S.A.) has released a prototype eye-chip that may eventually help to restore sight to blind people.
The chip will be inserted onto the retina and linked to nerves that will send electrical impulses to the brain for processing. The module will receive data from a tiny camera lodged in the frame of a pair of glasses. The current technology should produce 1000 points of light (as compared to millions in the biological eye) and will deliver a yellowish image.
"The aim is to bring a blind person to the point where he or she can read, move around objects in the house, and do basic household chores," said Kurt Wessendorf, Project Leader, Sandia Labs. "They won't be able to drive cars, at least in the near future, because instead of millions of pixels, they'll see approximately a thousand. The images will come a little slowly and appear yellow. But people will be able to see."
The idea, funded by a $9 million (Rupees 40.5 crore approximately), three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research, will target blindness caused by diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and Retinitis Pigmentosa. These diseases damage rods and cones in the eye that normally convert light to electrical impulses, but leave intact the neural paths that transport electrical signals to the brain.