It's been quite some time since I've deigned to share my thoughts with the peeps in cyberspace, but I couldn't resist adding my two cents to the discussion of the revolutionary new artificial retina recently approved by the FDA. As a person whose vision loss resulted from Retinitis Pigmentosa, I'd qualify for one of these prosthetic vision devices. Actually about a million more photoreceptors would need to undergo apoptosis before I'd actually become eligible. I still see in patches, faintly and when the light is just right.
Would I want a device that would restore "shadow vision" at a cost of $150,000? Those who have had the retinal implants report increased function, particularly the ability to sense motion. Some state that its hard work to learn to see with the new prostheses. This is most likely a function of how long the person has been without vision and how difficult it is to reestablish the neural pathways needed to allow the brain to make useful information out of the electrical impulses stimulating the ganglia. On the whole, I've heard that recipients of the artificial retina believe its helped them.
I would not want to pay 150 to 200 thousand bucks to achieve shadow vision, although the ability to detect motion is probably the best argument for buying one. My own eye doctor, who is also a professor of biomechanics, speculates that a far more sophisticated device is being developed that could offer better definition and some possibility of rudimentary color perception for those who have been recently blinded. He does not recommend such a device for me, however, because he believes I'm a perfect candidate for an epigenetic clinical trial.
What in blue blazes is an epigenetic "cure?" The idea is to introduce an innocuous virus into the eye which includes the genetic instructions for the retina to begin processing Vitamin A properly. My doctor says this would stop cellular death and possibly convert lower layers of the retina into functioning photoreceptors.
With all this in mind, I have decided to forgo an artificial retina at this time. I may reconsider if they go on sale at Best Buy!
Power to the Peeps!