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Gislin Dagnelie; Prosthetic vision for the blind: the future in sight?. Journal of Vision 2004;4(11):8. doi: 10.1167/4.11.8.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
As the ultimate tool in low vision rehabilitation, visual prostheses aim at restoring vision to individuals who have lost sight due to a blinding disease or trauma (or who may never have had functional vision) by stimulating intact proximal stages of the visual pathways (inner retina, optic nerve, visual cortex). Even rudimentary functional visual prostheses are still a few years away (at least!), but from preliminary tests in blind volunteers with temporary as well as chronic implants we know the characteristics of phosphenes elicited by electrical stimulation of the retina and higher visual pathways, and we can make educated guesses about the time line and degree of success awaiting this area of research. To get from single phosphenes to spatiotemporal vision will require both technological and conceptual advances, and we may not even know some of the hurdles that will have to be cleared. This talk will provide a brief overview of over a dozen current efforts around the world, briefly touching on known anatomical, physiological, and engineering aspects and challenges, results obtained thus far, and some data obtained in prosthetic vision simulations, to anticipate developments over the next 5–10 years.
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