About one in every five thousand individuals suffer from a degenerative disorder that leaves them legally blind. The United States defines someone as being legally blind when the person’s central vision has degraded down to 20/200. If the person has also lost peripheral vision, that could lead to the classification of being legally blind. Right now, it is estimated that 1.1 million individuals in the United States are considered legally blind.
There are a number of companies that are trying to develop a technology that will allow a legally blind person, who lost their vision from a degenerative disease, to be able to see again. Now, their vision may not be the same as it was before the disease, but the goal is to allow the individual to have some sense of vision back again. For example, the company Nano-Retina developed a miniature device, the NR600 Implant, that replaces the functionality of the damaged photoreceptor cells and creates the electrical stimulation required to activate the remaining health retinal cells. The NR600 Implant has two main components: a miniature implantable chip and a set of eyeglasses that are worn by the patient during use.
There are other companies that are working on technology devices similar to the NR600 Implant, as well as other technologies all together. For example, another company is working on a device that would be physically implanted directly in the individual’s retina for permanent use. These technologies are advancing rapidly, and maybe one day, researchers will find a technology to help restore blindness that occurs from other sources.