“I can see and that is why I can be happy.” Metaphorically these are lines quoted by Helen Keller, the first deafblind person who earned a bachelor’s degree. Even with the absence of vision, she managed to live and independent life, but how many can do the same? It is a sad fact that approximately 1.3 billion people across the globe suffer from deteriorating close up vision and are left helpless as retinal implants are considered rather troublesome. James Loudin and his colleagues at the Stanford University of California have developed goggles that have cells similar to solar panels and they might be the next big thing for vision restoration among people with degenerative eye conditions.
To start with, these goggles have a miniature video camera that rests on the nose piece. Information captured by the camera is relayed to a small portable computer, which processes the video into images. These images are then projected into the eyes using near-infrared laser. There are slender photovoltaic chips implanted beneath the retina and when the laser hits these chips, electric current is produced, which stimulates the nerve cells to send information to the brain.
The best part of using these goggles is that the entire image processing takes place outside the eyes and the implantation elements are relatively smaller and simpler, therefore, it helps avoid the unwieldiness caused by conventional retinal implants. The only downside is that the user can see only when they are wearing the goggles, meaning they will have to wear it all the time. But, this is in no way a compromise when you get to see the beautiful world that surrounds you.
These dream goggles are in the conceptual stage as of now and it might take a few years before they could be available for use by blind and vision impaired people.