Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Camera View

I once asked by my friend which among hearing, seeing and talking faculties I want retained if God were to take all of them except one. I pondered hard because I know that each of them are important in their own individual and unique ways but I finally decided that it was the sense of sight I want to retain.

I can never imagine being blind. And I said that I would rather be dead than blind because there is no way to enjoy life without seeing the beauty of creation.

Although many blind people have been happy with their condition – some even excelling than the unimpaired – science has developed a new means for the blind to see again.

Eye hospitals of Tubingen and Regensburg Universities in Germany have been studying and researching about sight restoration and reasoned that the use of the now very common silicon chips in camera can be used also to restore sight to the blind. Their project which includes implanting implantint these silicon chips on seven volunteers who have lost sight due to a disease which is called retinitis pigmentosa, has been led by Eberhart Zrenner.

The nature of the disease is that the rods and cones which are responsible for detecting light for the eyes are destroyed. This disease has yet no known medical treatment but the optic nerve, the part of the eye that transmits the electrical impulses to the brain, is still intact and undamaged.

So, the silicon chip, which is being design by a firm called Retinal Implant, will be implanted on the patient so that it will simulate the function of the damaged rods and cones and the images can still be transmitted to the brain though the optic nerves. This idea was taken from how a camera works where photodiodes act as the camera’s eyes. In the case of simulating they human eyes, 1540 sensors on a chip is implanted over the person’s retina to produce 1540 pixels of image. Electricity is provided using a battery worn around the persons neck connected by a very thin cable to the chip but is hope that someday, wireless power can be supplied through induction.

At the moment, the technology is crude, and so is the image seen by the person. The person does not see full color but can only recognize very vague grayscale images. It should be noted that the healthy eye has 120 million rods and 6 million cones.

In the future, the production of vague images can be enhanced into color images and more vivid pictures. But for now, those volunteers who have tried the recent innovation claim to have improvement in their lives.

As for me, even if I know that should I lose sight in the future, I won’t be as much doomed because of the interventions of high technology, I still take care of my eyes. I make sure I do not strain them. And so now, I will close this blog and look at greeneries to give my eyes time to relax.

No comments: