...Coming Soon, Bionic Vision?

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Meanwhile, scientists at Stanford University are having some success with experimental technology that would allow people with vision loss to "see" again. The technique involves implanting a chip into the retina. The chip receives signals from a video camera that is mounted on a pair of goggles. The chip bypasses damaged photo-receptors and allows the eye to detect direction of motion and perceive colors, contrast, and brightness levels. The Stanford design has the potential to achieve a visual acuity of 20/80, researchers say, which would provide functional vision for reading books and using the computer, but not enough for flying -- even a third-class medical requires 20/40 vision -- at least, not yet. Similar research is underway at Johns Hopkins University, where scientists say human trials could begin within a year.