A tiny microchip implanted in the eyes of people with age-related macular degeneration may soon be giving them back their sight. Let there be sight. Today, on Engineering Works!
One of the scariest physical disorders older people face is AMD, or age-related macular degeneration. AMD is growing blindness in the center of your vision. It’s caused by the breakdown of the retina, the part of your eye that gathers light and transforms it into what you see. More than 25-million older people around the world have AMD. There’s no treatment for it.
Now, engineers are testing a device that promises to give usable sight to people with AMD. It’s a microchip about an eighth of an inch square that’s inserted into the eyeball and glued over the retina. The chip carries ultra-small light detectors, circuits and electrodes that act like your natural retina and connect to the natural wiring of your eye.
AMD destroys the retina’s ability to collect light, but the rest of your eye still works. The microchip provides the signals.
There’s one problem. The microchip needs electricity to work. The engineers have come up with a tiny, low-power laser mounted on eyeglasses that feeds the tiny amounts of electricity needed into your eye.
The device is being tested in patients in several countries, but no one is predicting when you’ll be able to get one.
Our eyes still work just fine and we’re using them to get home. See you next time.
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Start the discussion: Some of the most exciting engineering these days involves devices to give the human body back what it’s lost because of age, disease or accident. What do you think are the niftiest devices? Let us know.