The Race is on for the First Retinal Implant that Really Works
Despite there being much hope over the last few decades on the possibility of equal success with retinal implants that was had with cochlear implants, the declarations by dozens of universities and institutes proclaiming that they are the FIRST to get a real retinal implant working properly in a real RP patient abound. Here is another story of this kind.
An Artificial Retina with the Capacity to Restore Normal Vision
NEW YORK (August 13, 2012) — Two researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have deciphered a mouse's retina's neural code and coupled this information to a novel prosthetic device to restore sight to blind mice. The researchers say they have also cracked the code for a monkey retina — which is essentially identical to that of a human — and hope to quickly design and test a device that blind humans can use.
The breakthrough, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), signals a remarkable advance in longstanding efforts to restore vision. Current prosthetics provide blind users with spots and edges of light to help them navigate. This novel device provides the code to restore normal vision. The code is so accurate that it can allow facial features to be discerned and allow animals to track moving images.
But what dictates success? A patient who will one day say that they are seeing the world like it is and not in shades of black...
This last week I have become acutely aware that there are NO clinical trials for such innovations as retinal implants because they require an invasive surgical procedure. No right-minded person with clear vision would ever partake of a clinical trial where their vision might be impaired or where they may risk complete blindness.
So on the one hand these proclamations made by scientists across the world are valid... on the other hand, we aren't there yet...
Here is a TEDx talk that squarely indicates where we are at today.