6 visual impairment breakthroughs you need to know

[Image courtesy unsplash.com]

About 285 million people have some form of visual impairment in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Of that number, 39 million are considered blind, and 246 million have low vision. Three-fifths of all vision impairment can be prevented or cured. Uncorrected refractive errors are one of the main causes of vision impairment in the world.

There has been a host of recent breakthroughs, however, that offer hope for the visually impaired. There’s a smart watch that relays smartphone notifications using braille and retinal prosthetics that could restore sight.

Here are 6 recent vision impairment innovations and breakthroughs you should know.

This retinal prosthetic could restore sight in blind people

Primary cortical neurons cultured on the surface of an array of optoelectronic nanowires. Here a neuron is pulling the nanowires, indicating the the cell is doing well on this material. [Image from UC San Diego]

University of California San Diego engineers have collaborated with the startup company Nanovision Biosciences to create nanotechnology and wireless electronics that can be used as a retinal prosthesis. The prosthesis is designed to help restore the ability of retinal neurons to respond to light.

This is not the first example of prosthetic retinas. Current retinal prostheses restore vision, but the technology still has its limits under the acuity threshold of 20/200 vision.

With the new UC San Diego–Nanovision technology, the arrays of silicon nanowires sense light and electrically stimulate the retina. The nanowires have a high-resolution that is similar to the spacing of photoreceptors in human retinas. The other part of the technology consists of a wireless device that transmits power and data to the nanowires.

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