Gene therapy technique

Surgeons in Oxford have used a gene therapy technique to improve the vision of six patients who would otherwise have gone blind.

The operation involved inserting a gene into the eye, a treatment that revived light-detecting cells.

The doctors involved believe that the treatment could in time be used to treat common forms of blindness.

Prof Robert MacLaren, the surgeon who led the research, said he was “absolutely delighted” at the outcome.

“We really couldn’t have asked for a better result,” he said.

Google Diabetes Contact lens

This week, Google announced plans for smart contact lenses that will help people with diabetes track their blood glucose levels.

Right now, many of the 347 million people who have diabetes worldwide monitor their blood sugar levels by pricking their fingers and testing the blood. Google wants to replace needles and blood with a contact lens and tears.

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Telescope Implant Improves Vision In Macular Degeneration

Physicians at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center have become the first in Virginia to successfully implant a telescope in a patient’s eye to treat macular degeneration.

The telescope implant is designed to correct end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most advanced form of AMD and the leading cause of blindness in older Americans. Patients with end-stage AMD have a central blind spot. This vision loss makes it difficult or impossible to see faces, to read and to perform everyday activities such as watching television, preparing meals and self-care.

Artificial Retina Could Restore Sight To The Blind

Two researchers in the US have taken a huge step forward in developing technology to help blind people see: they have made an artificial retina that restored normal vision in blind mice. And they have already worked out a way to make a similar device for monkeys, which they hope to quickly redesign and test for human use.

Current prosthetics work by using electrodes that are implanted into the blind patient’s eye, to drive the surviving cells: they stimulate the ganglion cells with electrical current.

But this method only produces very rough visual fields: the cells are stimulated, but they aren’t receiving the right signals, a sort of neural equivalent of “white noise”.

Scientists are working on various ways to improve on this approach. For instance one way is to have more stimulators in the implant, in the hope that with more stimulation, the image will improve.

Bionic Contact Lens Could Stream Emails, News And Medical Information


In a move that could revolutionize the way we think of hands-free communication, scientists have invented a bionic contact lens that could display real-time news, emails and text messages only millimeters from your retina.

“People may find all sorts of applications for it that we have not thought about,” Babak Parviz, UW assistant professor of electrical engineering said in a research announcement poste on the department’s website. “Our goal is to demonstrate the basic technology and make sure it works and that it’s safe.”

In the joint study between the University of Washington and Aalto University in Finland, researchers safely tested the bionic display contact lenses on rabbits for up to 20 minutes with no adverse effects.

According to TIME magazine, the anesthetized animals could tolerate the wearable contact lensesfor short periods of time while showing no abrasions or thermal burning.

Photo courtesy of the University of Washington

To create the bionic contacts, scientists installed a single LED light and wireless antenna into the contact lens, which is made from delicately thin materials, according to the Daily Mail.

But scientists still have plenty of hurdles to clear before they can can bring the Terminator-like lenses to the market. The device’s small size means researchers only have enough space for one LED, making the display of complex information much more difficult.

Another challenge is powering the microscopic circuits inside the lens. Currently, the lens can only function if it stays within centimeters of its wireless battery.

“Our next goal is to incorporate some predetermined text in the contact lens,” Praviz said in an interview with the BBC.

The study comes at a time when scientists are similarly looking to develop an alternative pain-free device to monitor glucose levels of diabetics by utilizing a sensor to read eye whites or tears.