PerspectiveNeuroscience

Restoring vision to the blind

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Science  22 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6493, pp. 827-828
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba2623

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Summary

Surveys consistently report that people fear total blindness more than any other disability, and currently the major cause of untreatable blindness is retinal disease. The retina, a part of the brain that extends into the eye during development, initiates vision by first detecting light with the rod and cone photoreceptors. Four classes of retinal neurons then begin the analysis of visual images. Defects in the optical media that transmit and focus light rays onto the retina (lens and cornea) can usually be dealt with surgically, although such treatments are not available in some parts of the world, resulting in as many as 20 to 30 million legally blind individuals worldwide. Untreatable retinal disease potentially causes legal or total blindness in more than 11 million people in the United States alone, but progress in treatments raises the possibility of restoring vision in several types of retinal blindness (1).

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