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Researchers Create Bionic Prosthetic Retina That Could Help the Blind See

How would you like a new retina display? No, not the Apple kind—the bionic kind.

Researchers at Cornell University have developed an optical implant that mimics the functionality of an actual retina. An encoder takes images as input, converts the images into coded electrical pulses, which are then sent into the back of the retina as light pulses, effectively creating a “pseudoretina.”

To produce the correct retinal code, the researchers hooked electrodes to ganglion cells, the neurons that transmit signals to the brain, in mice. They compared the activity of a normal retina, a blind retina with the new optical implant, and a blind retina with no encoder. The researchers noted “the combined effect of using the code and high-resolution stimulation is able to bring prosthetic capabilities into the realm of normal image representation.” The research has huge—though perhaps not immediate—implications for people who suffer from forms of blindness.

Still, for now, you should probably keep eating those carrots.

Video by Jim Festante.