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A microchip that restores eyesight to patients with degenerative diseases

This is Science Today. Diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa can lead to blindness, but an artificial retina may help restore vision to these patients. Electrical engineer Wentai Liu of the University of California, Santa Cruz explains...

Liu:     The retina is made of many layers of the neuron. There's one layer called photosensor that's being destroyed by the disease, but the remaining neuron they are still OK, so the chip is supposed to jumpstart the other layer so that the blind patient be able to recover eyesight.

Narrator:        This chip is implanted and receives visual signals from a tiny video camera that's attached to a pair of sunglasses.

Liu:     Originally, when we started this project we envisioned this entire implant would be inside the eye ball and through a camera and then we gradually realize that the camera technology moves so quickly and also, it dissipates heat inside the eye, so we decided create two units -- external unit and internal unit.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.