Doctors have restored sight to the blind by sending video images directly to the brain. Within a world-first, that offers desire to millions of patients, five men, and one girl have regained eyesight after many years of ‘living in the dark’. That they had electrode chips planted in the visual cortex at the back of their skulls that found images from a tiny video camera mounted in a pair of glasses. Their eye completely were bypassed.
One of the participants, Benjamin James Spencer, who proceeded to go aged nine blind, described his pleasure at viewing his wife and three daughters for the very first time. ‘It is awe inspiring to see so much beauty, night ‘ the 35-year-old told the Daily Emails last. ‘I could start to see the roundness of my wife’s face, the shape of her body. ‘I could see my kids running up to give me a hug. It is not perfect eyesight – it is similar to grainy 1980s surveillance video footage.
Mr Spencer described how, when he was nine years of age, his world proceeded to go black. September 18 ‘It was, 1992, week after my birthday a ‘ he said. ‘I was at school leaving a class and in enough time it required me to walk 50ft everything vanished. ‘At first it began to go foggy and some paces later it was just dark then. ‘I panicked and started screaming and kind of went into shock.
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In the approaching days specialists at a medical center near his home in Texas broke the news that he’d never see again. ‘I was informed this was going to be my future. I used to be classed as lacking 100 per cent light perception. I was blind,’ he said. Mr Spencer had pediatric glaucoma, an uncommon condition caused by a defect in the eye’s drainage system. It had been incurable but scientists have now managed to bypass the damaged hyperlink by sending images directly to the visible cortex, the right part of the brain responsible for sight. Mr Spencer lives in the populous city of Pearland, near Houston, along with his wife Jeanette, 42, and daughters Abigail, 15, Melissa, 13, and Jane, ten.
In April 2018, he became one of just six people to have a 60-electrode -panel implanted in the comparative back of his brain. Surgeons at Baylor Medical College in Houston spent two hours cutting a window in his skull, putting the electrode array on the surface of the brain, and stitching it up again. Then they spent six months ‘mapping’ his visible field. This included sending computer indicators to the stimulation -panel in his head to synchronize his brain to real life – in effect teaching his visual cortex to process images again.
Eventually, in October, the device was wirelessly linked to a tiny video camera, mounted in a set of glasses, and started up. He saw his wife and three children for the first time. ‘It was an unbelievable moment,’ he told the Daily Mail. Describing getting a glimpse of sunlight through the home window, he said: ‘Such a tiny thing is normal for people who have eyesight. But I hadn’t seen the sun since I was nine years of age.
I had sensed its heat but seeing it was amazing actually. January Inn, after months of hospital testing, he was permitted to take these devices home. The terms of the medical trial means he can only change it on for three hours a day, but he makes the majority of it. ‘I usually use it for 45 minutes at the same time and space it out,’ he said.