|A RETINAL PROSTHESIS FOR RESTORING SIGHT.
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A Stanford University research team is developing a different kind of prosthesis.
Just as prosthetic limbs can allow people to walk again, this one might allow millions of blind people to see again.
SOT - Jim Loudin, researcher at Stanford University
"A retinal prosthesis goes in and tries to actually restore the light-sensing ability to these areas of the retina that no longer have that." (:08)
The story after this...
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The remote control unit for your TV set emits infrared light that is so dim you can't see it - but the TV does.
That's what the retinal prosthesis might do for a human eye dimmed by a disease like retinitis pigmentosa.
Professor Daniel Palanker.
SOT - Prof. Daniel Palanker, Stanford University
"That same idea - that basically, the eye doesn't see this light - but the chip can still absorb these photons and convert them to an electrical current." (:07)
Researcher Jim Loudin.
SOT - Jim Loudin
"That electricity stimulates the retina and restores some visual sensation to an otherwise blind patient." (:06)
This prosthesis seems to work with laboratory rats, but a rat can't tell you what it sees or how clearly - which Palanker and his team need to find out.
SOT - Prof. Daniel Palanker
"So the way we plan to do it is exactly like it's done with small children that don't tell you what they see. It turns out that the brain strongly responds to motion." (:10)
So, they read brain waves.
The team's goal is to prove that their system works well enough to justify human trials.
SOT - Jim Loudin
"So, more than anything else, we have to prove that we're able to restore at high resolution - which is something that we have been working on." (:06)
For millions of people, their prosthesis could make the difference between night and day.
The Osgood File. Transcripts, podcasts, and Mp3s of these programs can be found at theosgoodfile.com. This is Charles Osgood on the CBS Radio Network.