When a person becomes blind — as opposed to being born that way — their brain’s visual cortex is typically undamaged. However, it’s also fairly useless since it’s not receiving any information from the eyes.
In an extraordinary medical trial, six blind people have now had their vision partially restored thanks to Orion, a new device that feeds images from a camera directly into the brain — and they may just be the first of many to benefit from the cutting-edge tech, Futurism reports.
“By bypassing the eye completely you open the potential up to many, many more people,” Optegra Eye Hospital surgeon Alex Shortt, who wasn’t involved with the research, told The Daily Mail. “This is a complete paradigm shift for treating people with complete blindness. It is a real message of hope.”
The Orion device comprises two main parts: a brain implant and a pair of glasses. The implant consists of 60 electrodes that receive information from a camera mounted on the glasses. Together, they can deliver visual information directly to the wearer’s brain, removing the eyes from the equation entirely.
“If you can imagine every spot in the visual field in the visual world, there’s a corresponding part of the brain that represents that area, that spatial location,” researcher Daniel Yoshor explained in a video on the tech. “And we know that if we stimulate someone’s brain… in a specific spot, we will produce a perception of a spot of light corresponding to that map in the visual world.”