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Sunday, December 20, 2009


Although Science had already publish the 10 scientific breatroughs of the year, the magazine forget to mention one: the retinal chip that bypass damaged rod and cones (imitating cochlear implants that make hear to deaf). Although we congratulate to the team of doctors of the University of Tubingen to implant successfully to a 45 year-old blind man a tiny subretinal microchip of 3x 3 mm containing but of 1,500 photovoltaic cells -making he see legally- it is necessary to remember that such idea comes from USA (Retinal Implant Project, 1989: MIT-Harvard Medical School to develop a chip eye implant that restore vision for Retinitis Pigmentosa and Macular Degeneration). According to Eberhart Zrenner Chief of the Institute for Ophthalmic Research of the University of Tübingen, the German chip identifies objects and reads black letters. Zrenner, will attempt next year to implant permanent retinal chips to 24 german blind men.

So much in macular degeneration associated to the age (main cause of blindness in the world), as in Retinitis Pigmentosa, rod and cones are degenerated while the neurons that connect the eye with the brain remain healthy. 2 subretinals chips contained in a silicon capsule makes the miracle. The top chip receives the external light that enters to the eye channeled by glasses. A small CCD camera converts the visual scenes to a series of laser pulses that carry energy and visual signals to the interior of the eye. The inferior chip decodes the visual laser information sending it to an electrode that transmits the electric impulses to healthy eye-brain neural cells, allowing to see. Without permanent energy the chip retinal would have problems. A small solar panel designed by Jim Mann, Terry Hernden and Tony Soares of the MIT-Lincoln Lab, solves the problem.


Aunque Science ya publicó los 10 breatroughs cientificos del año, olvidó mencionar uno :el chip retinal que bypassea conos y bastones dañados (imitando implantes cocleares que hacen oir a sordos). Aunque felicitamos al equipo de médicos de la Universidad de Tubingen por implantar exitosamente a un ciego de 45 años, un microchip subretinal de 3x 3 mm conteniendo mas de 1,500 células fotovoltaicas -haciéndolo ver legalmente- hay que recordar que la idea viene de USA (Retinal Implant Project, 1989 : MIT-Harvard Medical School to develop a chip eye implant that restore vision for Retinitis Pigmentosa and Macular Degeneration). Según Eberhart Zrenner Director del Institute for Ophthalmic Research de la Universidad de Tübingen, el chip alemán identifica objetos y lee letras negras. Zrenner, intentará el próximo año implantar chips retinales permanentes a 24 ciegos alemanes.

Tanto la degeneración macular asociada a la véjez (una de las causas principales de ceguera en el mundo), como la Retinitis Pigmentosa, degeneran conos y bastones, mientras las neuronas que conectan al ojo con el cerebro permanecen sanas. 2 chips subretinales contenidos en una cápsula de silicio hacen el milagro. El chip superior recibe la luz exterior que entra al ojo canalizada por anteojos. Una pequeña cámara CCD convierte las escenas visuales a una serie de pulsos láser que llevan energía y señales visuales al interior del ojo. El chip inferior decodifica la información visual láser enviándola a un electrodo que trasmite los impulsos eléctricos a las células neurales oculo-cerebrales sanas, permitiendo ver. Sin energía permanente el chip retinal tendría problemas. Un pequeño panel solar diseñado por Jim Mann, Terry Hernden y Tony Soares del MIT-Lincoln Lab, resuelve el problema.



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