Is it possible that some day the blind will be able to see. The answer is yes even though we are not quite there. A number of centers around the world are doing basic research on devices that can be surgically implanted into a human eye. This type of device is called a retinal prosthesis. It works by transmitting visual information to the surviving cells in a diseased retina. With these devices it is possible to bring the eye’s neural circuity back to life.
Clinical studies have shown that these retinal implants can elicit meaningful improvement in patients blinded by severe retinal degeneration.
this research is in its infancy. The only retinal prosthesis that has been approved for commercial use in the U.S. is the Argus II which has been implanted in only 200 patients. With this device patients who were not even able to distinguish between light and dark were once again able to perceive light and the direction from which it originated.
More sophisticated devices are in various stages of clinical research. A model available in Europe has allowed improved light perception and some even managed to identify and count objects. With the intensity of research efforts going on it may not be that long before prosthetic vision can truly restore functional sight to the blind.