Macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness in the elderly, in which peripheral vision usually remains the same, while forward looking sight becomes blurry. Thankfully, researchers a UC Davis have developed a tiny telescope implant that can restore some of this vision. It won't set you up with sight like Hawkeye, but it's already helping some people see again.
Back in May, UC Davis specialists implanted the tiny telescope in the left eye of 89-year-old Virginia Banes, who stopped painting 4 years ago when the condition took away her central vision. She is among the first 50 patients to receive the telescopic implant and it seems to be working very well:
"I can see better than ever now," Bane said in a statement from UC Davis. "Colors are more vibrant, beautiful and natural, and I can read large print with my glasses. I haven't been able to read for the past seven years. I look forward to being able to paint again."
The macula is considered the most sensitive part of the retina. It's made up of millions of light sensing cells that allow us to see sharp, detailed images of objects in front of us. Unfortunately, for people who suffer from macular degeneration these images become blurry, leaving them unable to things clearly.
With the new implant, Banes will have to retrain her brain how to see. The procedure basically re-purposes the eye with the implant for seeing things directly in front of her, while the other eye is used for peripheral vision -- seeing things around her. Over time, the brain will make the adjustments, using the capabilities of each eye as needed.
Implanting a telescope in someone's eye seems like something we'd only hear of in a sci-fi story, but we assure you it's not. If you want to learn more about the procedure head over to the UC Davis website.