-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- A blind patient was able to
read Braille patterns that were streamed directly onto the retina
using a special device, researchers say.
The patient could read words with up to four letters accurately
and quickly with the Argus II. The device uses a small camera
mounted on a pair of glasses, a portable processor to translate the
image from the camera into electrical stimulation, and a microchip
and electrodes implanted directly on the retina, according to
Second Sight, the company that developed the Argus II.
The study was conducted by Second Sight researchers and
published Nov. 21 in the journal
Frontiers of Neuroprosthetics.
The device has been implanted in about 50 blind people, and many
of them are now able to see color, movement and objects, the
"In this clinical test with a single blind patient, we bypassed the camera that is the usual input for the implant and directly stimulated the retina," study lead author Thomas Lauritzen said in a journal news release. "Instead of feeling the Braille on the tips of his fingers, the patient could see the patterns we projected and then read individual letters in less than a second with up to 89 percent accuracy."
The researchers conducted a series of tests with single letters
as well as words ranging in length from two to four letters. The
patient was shown each letter for half a second and had up to 80
percent accuracy for short words.
"There was no input except the electrode stimulation and the patient recognized the Braille letters easily," Lauritzen said. "This proves that the patient has good spatial resolution because he could easily distinguish between signals on different, individual electrodes."
The American Foundation for the Blind outlines
assistive technologies for people with vision
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