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Scientists Enable Blind Woman to See Simple Shapes Using Brain Implant

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Berna Gmez of Elche, Spain, fully blind for more than 16 years, wears eyeglasses that give her limited sight.

A neurosurgeon implanted a microelectrode array in her brain, Berna Gmez of Elche, Spain, fully blind for more than 16 years, was able to use special glasses to experience a limited form of sight.

Credit: John A. Moran Eye Center/University of Utah

Scientists at the University of Utah (UoU) and Spain's Miguel Hernandez University have given artificial vision to a blind woman through a brain implant.

Surgeons implanted the Utah Electrode Array (UEA) into Berna Gómez's visual cortex; she wore eyeglasses with a video camera, and software encoded and transmitted the camera's visual data to the UEA.

The array stimulated neurons to generate phosphenes, seen as white points of light, to produce an image.

Gómez successfully identified lines, shapes, and simple letters evoked by different stimulation patterns.

UoU's Dr. Eduardo Fernández said, “These results are very exciting because they demonstrate both safety and efficacy.”

Fernández added, “We have taken a significant step forward, showing the potential of these types of devices to restore functional vision for people who have lost their vision.”

From University of Utah
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