Medical Breakthroughs

Optical/Aural (Seeing/Hearing)

Talking With A Surgeon With Telescopes Implanted In Eyes
You may remember our earlier story on implantable miniature telescopes that helped treat blindness. Well, I had the good fortune of doing a follow-up interview with Dr. Kathryn Colby, Professor at Harvard Medical School and surgeon at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. She was one of the primary surgeons who carried out the clinical trials with the telescope (the product name is CentraSight), and is an advisor to VisionCare, the company behind the technology. While the company is still waiting on FDA approval, Dr. Colby described to me some of the successes she’s already seen. CentraSight is used to combat advanced macular degeneration (AMD). The condition causes a hole to form in the center of your vision, making you effectively blind. The implanted telescope expands the center field of vision so that the image can be captured on the part of the macula that is still healthy.
Posted 10/5/09

Brits Develop Seeing-Eye Tongue
An electric lollipop that allows the blind to 'see' using their tongue has been developed by scientists. The extraordinary device converts images captured by a tiny camera into a series of electrical tingles, which can be felt on the tongue. Nerves then send these messages to the brain, which turn the tingles back into pictures.  After only a day's practice, those using the machine were able to make out shapes, movement and read signs. Some were even able to interpret objects after just 15 minutes of training. One blind man, who was testing the device, is reported to have cried when he read his first letter. The BrainPort device, which is expected to go on sale later this year, is unlikely to replace guide dogs or walking sticks, but could dramatically improve the lives of those with sight problems. Dr William Seiple, of vision healthcare and research organisation Lighthouse International, which has been testing the device, said four blind volunteers had quickly learned how to find doorways and the buttons on a lift, pick out knives and forks, and read letters and numbers.
Posted 9/2/09

Learning to See With Macular Degeneration
ATLANTA (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Thirteen-million Americans have AMD -- age related macular degeneration, the leading cause of irreversible blindness and vision impairment in people over 50. Now, researchers are studying a new kind of therapy for the condition. It can’t reverse the damage, but it’s helping patients get the most out of the vision they have left.
Posted 8/17/09

River blindness 'can be beaten'  <- FEATURE!!! 
A study by the UN's health body has shown that the disease onchocerciasis - also known as river blindness - could be wiped out using antibiotics. It is endemic in many parts of Africa - mostly in poor, rural communities. Scientists from the World Health Organization say their discoveries are a milestone - with big implications for fighting river blindness. ...It is caused by a nematode worm that can live inside the human body for years.  
Posted 7/21/09

Blind to be cured with stem cells
BRITISH scientists have developed the world’s first stem cell therapy to cure the most common cause of blindness. Surgeons predict it will become a routine, one-hour procedure that will be generally available in six or seven years’ time.
Posted 6/20/06

A Sight for Weak Eyes
Now, a new option is available for when corneal transplants are just not enough.
Posted 6/14/06

The Buzz on Hearing
For everyone ready to hear some good news, check out the buzz coming from Binghamton University in New York, where acoustic engineer, Ron Miles, Ph.D., has been inspired by flies in his development of a new directional hearing aid. It sounds like being a “fly on the wall” just got a whole new meaning!
Posted 5/10/07

More Fungal Eye Infections
All infections were linked to contact lens use, and some were linked to Bausch & Lomb's ReNu MoistureLoc contact cleanser solution. The company permanently pulled the product from the shelves.
Posted 6/14/06

Reducing Risk Factors for Macular Degeneration
New studies highlight risk factors for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the elderly. The research reveals eating fish may decrease one's chances of developing AMD, and smoking nearly doubles the risk.
Posted 7/12/06

Statins May Improve Eye Circulation
Statins may provide more benefits than lowering cholesterol. A small new study reveals the drugs may also improve circulation in the eye.
Posted 5/9/06

Stem Cells Rescue Vision
In a study done on rats, special cells grown from stem cells have been shown to protect eyesight and have the potential to help humans with eye diseases.
Posted 3/29/07