Science breakthrough as blind patient REGAINS vision with revolutionary brain implant

Spanish scientists made the breakthrough when a brain implant directly stimulated the blind woman’s visual cortex, which reportedly allowed her to see light and shapes again. By using an “artificial retina” attached to a pair of glasses directing light in front of them, the light was then processed into electrical signals. The signals then sent to series of micro-electrodes implanted in the patient’s brain, allowing the user to “see” light picked up by the glasses.

This system was tested on a 57-year-old woman who had not seen a thing in 16 years, having been completely blind.

During the experiment, the breakthrough implant enabled her to identify shapes and silhouettes detected by the artificial retina.

The scientists wrote in the research paper published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation: “We consistently obtained high-quality recordings from visually deprived neurons and the stimulation parameters remained stable over time.”

The patient could also spot “some letters” and even “recognise object boundaries”, according to the researchers.

And the operation was reportedly completely safe.

The researchers claimed that implanting electrodes into a patient’s brain does not did affect the area of the brain around the visual cortex.

The artificial retina also did not simulate non-target neurons.

This suggests that the system is a safe one to use and is as unobtrusive as a brain implant could be.

The system also required a relatively low level of electrical activity when compared to other neural implant arrays.

The artificial retina was removed from the woman’s brain after six months.

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This method involved the use of optogenetics as a clinical treatment, which involved modifying nerve cells, or neurons, so that they fire electrical signals when they’re exposed to wavelengths of light.

This gives neuroscientists the power to accurately control neuronal signalling within the brain and elsewhere.

According to the NHS, there are almost two million people living with sight loss in the UK.

Around 360,000 of those are registered as blind or partially sighted.