October 26, 2021

Blind Woman Gains Limited Sight with Brain Implant

The ability to see is one of the senses, if not the most important one, that humans have, and an international team of researchers have returned partial sight in a blind woman.

The researchers from academia in Spain, the Netherlands, and the United States of America have worked together to create a prototype implant using penetrating electrodes, thus enabling 58-year-old former science teacher, Berna Gomez, to “see” basic shapes.

An electrode array was placed on the rear of the brain – which processes visual information – and stimulated the neurons to create a sort of artificial vision consisting of white points of light, phosphenes, for Gomez. The experiment was recorded over a period of six months via a pair of glasses with a tiny camera installed.

The first two months were spent daily on training Gomez to determine when her brain produced phosphenes, and when the implant did. Eventually, they moved onto assigning letters to the implant phosphenes – which she was able to determine with 70% accuracy.

Professor Eduardo Fernandez said: “These results are very exciting because they demonstrate both safety and efficacy, and could help to achieve a long-held dream of many scientists, which is the transfer of information from the outside world directly to the visual cortex of blind individuals, thereby restoring a rudimentary form of sight.”

The group of academics intends to take the study further by using more complex systems to obtain more vivid visuals, as their main goal is to provide the sight-impaired with greater independence.

No doubt this is an exciting time for this field of research, as it could open up so many venues of application for improving the lives of the blind. This includes the invention of a bionic eye in 2016, which enabled sight in a man who has been blind for over 40 years.