Cheri Robertson has no eyes, yet she is able to see – sort of.
She’s the recipient of a new bionic vision system. She lost both of her eyes in a car accident 19 years ago, but the system stimulates her brain electrically.
“I said, Oh my God, I can see it. I can see it,’ and I was just so excited!”
Neurosurgeon Kenneth Smith, M.D., of Saint Louis University School of Medicine, said the procedure is the first to reverse blindness in patients without eyes. “They are really seeing. The brain is getting impulses just like when you and I see.”
[Said Robertson:] “Whatever I see is just two splashes of light, so I know something is there,” Robertson says. She admits support from her mom and the local Lion’s Club keeps her spirits high. “If I was all depressed, I couldn’t affect anybody’s life for the good, and I want to make a difference.” Friends, family and doctors say she already has.
The surgery is not yet performed in the United States, but Dr. Smith said he hopes it will be in the next five years. The main safety concern is an infection where the port goes into the head. For the surgery to work, patients must have once had vision.
News 14 Carolina has a cool video and an interesting description/summary of the research related to the technology. The article seems to gloss over just how little this system is capable of at this point. When Smith’s comments that “They are really seeing. The brain is getting impulses just like when you and I see,” he’s really overstating the technology.
Still, Robertson’s attitude is incredible. She’s undergoing significant risk so that future generations can benefit from this development research that’s particularly difficult to perform in animal studies.
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