Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hope for 15 million blinds in India

Now blinds can see!!! Sounds unbelievable, isn't it! Hold your breath. She was totally blind for seven years. But now she could see some coloured flashes. Thanks to a miracle visual stimulator chip that changed her life once and for all. This miracle chip (also called bionic eye) is a retinal implant. And it could restore sight to millions.

A 30-year- old white woman lost her sight eight years ago due to a rare disease which attacks the pigment in the eyes. Within a year she was completely blind.Her world turned dark and colourless.
The blind lady saw some coloured flashes, lines and spots when a stimulator chip was inserted into her brain and signals were sent from a computer.
The moment she saw colour for the first time was a veryemotional experience. It touched us all very deeply as human being, said Dr Nader Pouratian, who performed the operation on her.

North Carolina’s 66-year old blind man Larry Hester got his vision after 33 years of blindness. Larry Hester was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when he was in his early 30s.

On October 1, 2014, Hester became only the seventh person in the US to have a so-called bionic eye - an Argus II Retinal Prosthesis Device.
Hester's wife, Jerry, said her most cherished moment in life came while they were watching a football game. She was sitting in a dark chair, and her skin was enough of a contrast that Hester could see flashes. He reached out and touched her face.

Doctors at the University of California Los Angeles are on the brink of a breakthrough innovation. They are waiting for the permission from US regulators to connect the simulator chip to a camera.

They are hoping to send moving images directly to the brain from the camera mounted on a pair of glasses worn by patient. They will try to send video signals from a system called the Orion I, which captures images in front of the eye of the patient.

The bionic eye system consists of a small digital camera, external processor and an implant with a microchip and stimulating electrodes surgically placed in the back of the eye of the patient.

The movement of bionic eye quite similar to a healthy eye through eye-tracking software within the glasses to detect movement and then adjust the bionic eye.

In a bionic eye system images are converted into electrical pulses and transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes attached to the retina. The electrodes stimulate the remaining retina's remaining cells which send the information to the brain.

Bionic eye incorporates technology initially developed by researchers at the Duke Eye Centre; its sophisticated features were further enhanced and marketed by a company called Second Sight Medical Products in USA.
This bionic eye could a big boon for India as well. By a conservative estimates of the Union Health Ministry, of the 37 million people who are blind in the world, more than 10 million are in India. Most of them lose vision with diseases of the retina like macular degeneration.
Every year from the 1st to 7th April to we observe Prevention of Blindness Week to increase awareness about blindness.
Dr Rajat N Agarwal, a scientist of Indian origin at the University of Southern California, made the first bionic eye device in April, 2011.
Bionic eye system has the potential to restore vision to patients blinded due to virtually any reason, including glaucoma, cancer, diabetic retinopathy, or trauma.
Bionic eye has not yet been used on Indian patients mainly because of its high costs; Here in India the device alone costs around Rs 22 lakhs, minus the hospital and surgical costs. Till date only 100 people across the globe have so far got the Bionic Eye implant till date.