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Researchers say they could be months away from offering hope to people with macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, the leading causes of sight loss in industrial countries.
The technology centres on an intricate and minuscule implant containing 98 electrodes, which is designed to stimulate nerve cells in the retina.
Images taken by an external camera implanted in glasses worn by the patient would be processed and relayed via an external wire to a receiver implanted behind the ear, from which signals will be sent to the retina processing chip. If all goes to plan the retina, having been stimulated with the signals, will send information to vision processing centres in the brain.