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From the OMG WTF Files – The Ancient Art of EYEBALL SHAVING

eyeball-shavingI still can barely believe this — I researched “eyeball shaving hoax” extensively before posting this.  It is in fact a real thing, practiced in China, and apparently for hundreds of years if not thousands.

Meet Liu Deyuan, a barber (yes, a BARBER does this) who offers the ancient (and albeit abandoned) art of Eyeball Shaving at his little barber shop in Chengdu City, in west Sichuan Province, China:

615x330_china-eye-shaving

Let’s recap really quickly here:

  • There’s a barber in China who shaves people’s eyelids and eyeballs for about 5 yuan, which is $0.81 USD
  • A BARBER IS SHAVING PEOPLE’S EYES AND FACES WITH THE SAME KNIFE
  • A BARBER IS SHAVING PEOPLE’S EYES
  • PEOPLE PAY TO HAVE THIS DONE.

From an article at ChiEnglish.com, bolding is mine:

First, Liu uses some water to rinse off the knife that he had just used to shave a customer’s head and pulled up a stool. Using his fingers to hold open the customer’s eyelids, he scraped the blade back and forth over the eyelid and then the eyeball. Then he took out another tool — a small rod, which he placed in the customer’s eye, sliding it back and forth in the upper eyelid like a windshield wiper. Liu repeated the process on the lower eyelid. When the left eye was done, he did the whole thing again on the right eye. The whole process took about 5 minutes.

Holy mother.  Look at these tools – yeah, they look really sterile, don’t they!

eyeball-shaving-tools

I’m not sure what else to say but GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.  This practice has been abandoned by most, and is shunned by doctors for the risk of cross-contamination.  Yeah, like cross-contamination is the only real issue here.  WHat happens when ol’ Liu there sneezes while shaving ze eyeballs?!

eyeball_shaving_eyelids

I love the look on that dude’s face on the right in the photo above.  That is the perfect “Caption THIS” image!

Eyeball-Shaving-China

EYEBALL_SHAVING

 

Second Sight Medical Products Delivers a Kick to the Giftbag for Retinitis Pigmentosa

This is very exciting news for the realm of artificial vision.  I have someone I look up to that suffers from Retinitis Pigmentosa, and it sucks to see this degenerative disease affect this man’s sight.

But:  advances are being made in “bionic” tech all the time that tries to bridge the gap between natural vision and artificially enhanced vision – and since we don’t understand that much about how the brain translates sight into information for the brain, every time there is a breakthrough in technology in this arena, it’s a big deal!

First, what is Retinitis Pigmentosa?  It sounds like something that is not very good, and in fact it is not.  From Wikipedia and the NIH:

Fundus of patient with retinitis pigmentosa, mid stage (Bone spicule-shaped pigment deposits are present in the mid periphery along with retinal atrophy, while the macula is preserved although with a peripheral ring of depigmentation. Retinal vessels are attenuated.) Hamel Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 2006

Fundus of patient with retinitis pigmentosa, mid stage (Bone spicule-shaped pigment deposits are present in the mid periphery along with retinal atrophy, while the macula is preserved although with a peripheral ring of depigmentation. Retinal vessels are attenuated.) Hamel Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 2006

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited, degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment and often blindness.[1] Sufferers will experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Night blindness or nyctalopia;
  • Tunnel vision (no peripheral vision);
  • Peripheral vision (no central vision);
  • Latticework vision;
  • Aversion to glare;
  • Slow adjustment from dark to light environments and vice versa;
  • Blurring of vision;
  • Poor color separation; and
  • Extreme tiredness.

The progress of RP is not consistent. Some people will exhibit symptoms from infancy, others may not notice symptoms until later in life.[2] Generally, the later the onset, the more rapid is the deterioration in sight. Also notice that people who do not have RP have 90 degree peripheral vision, while some people that have RP have less than 90 degree.

A form of retinal dystrophy, RP is caused by abnormalities of the photoreceptors (rods and cones) or the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of the retina leading to progressive sight loss. Affected individuals may experience defective light to dark, dark to light adaptation or nyctalopia (night blindness), as the result of the degeneration of the peripheral visual field (known as tunnel vision). Sometimes, central vision is lost first causing the person to look sidelong at objects.

The effect of RP is best illustrated by comparison to a television or computer screen. The pixels of light that form the image on the screen equate to the millions of light receptors on the retina of the eye. The fewer pixels on a screen, the less distinct will be the images it will display. Fewer than 10 percent of the light receptors in the eye receive the colored, high intensity light seen in bright light or daylight conditions. These receptors are located in the center of the circular retina. The remaining 90 percent of light receptors receive gray-scale, low intensity light used for low light and night vision and are located around the periphery of the retina. RP destroys light receptors from the outside inward, from the center outward, or in sporadic patches with a corresponding reduction in the efficiency of the eye to detect light. This degeneration is progressive and has no known cure as of June 2012.

That sucks so much.  However, now you have to meet Second Sight Medical Products’ Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System, which just got FDA approval for patent this week:

All I can say about this is holy crap.

argus-2-system-overview

From the MedGadget article on the Argus II system:

The bionic eye works by replacing the disease-damaged photoreceptors of the eye with tiny chips that translate light into electrical signals, which in turn stimulate the optic nerve. The normal retina is really not a camera, and the optic nerve does not send pixels, per say, to the brain, but rather a highly processed and optimally encoded representation of the visual scene. The fact that bionic eyes like the Argus II can work at all — and indeed so well — is due more to the brain’s ability to make sense out of whatever relevant signals it receives, than to current understanding of how the retina actually works. As researchers advance their understanding of  the retina, bionic eye technology will continue to advance hand-in-hand to provide new vision to the blind at ever higher resolution.

This is amazing technology.  I hope that the Argus II system can restore vision in those who have lost it due to terrible degenerative diseases like RP.

To my buddy:  hang in there, big man.  I’m always on the lookout.

Side note:  under the Did You Know? section of the Argus II System website:

The Latin word “Argus” refers to a giant in Greek mythology with 100 eyes, Argus Panoptes, who was considered all-seeing. Argus was the servant of Hera, goddess of women and marriage as well as the wife of Zeus. Zeus seduced the nymph Io who was also the priestess of Hera.  In order to hide her from Zeus, Hera transformed her into a white heifer and asked Argus to watch over Io and protect her from Zeus.

Too cool, Second Sight.

Tanya Vlach Wants to Grow A Bionic Eye

Tanya Vlach is looking for someone to help her invent a “bionic” eye that has a camera inside.  Watch this:

Tanya is looking for donors and engineers to help her create an experimental project featuring her prosthetic eye and a camera.  It sucks that she had to experience such tragedy in order to have this opportunity, but I have to say that I am inspired and excited to see how her project comes out.  If you’re interested in helping Tanya make her project come to life, please help her out over at Kickstarter.

Details from her Kickstarter page:

Before we get into the nitty gritty details of the eye camera, let’s back up a few years. In 2005, I was in a near death car accident. Centimeters away from death, I managed to pull through. Although grateful to be alive, I lost my left eye in the tumble and suffered frontal lobe minor brain injury and severe depression.

I entered the vast world of the Internet and chronicled my experiences on my blog, One-Eyed. I posted about new developments in technology that would help me regain sight. Soon I began envisioning a sci-fi plot twist to my predicament. I pitched my idea to Wired Founder Kevin Kelly. Intrigued, he posted my call out to engineers to help build an implant of a miniature camera inside my prosthetic eye. Immediately the idea went viral and I received hundreds of international engineering proposals, support from my  one-eyed community, and thousands of media inquiries. I became the media haven for transhumanism and the subject of controversy around engineering the body. Since then, I’ve been plotting new strategies to tell my story, both my personal one and the one of my sci-fi alter ego, into a transmedia platform, which will include: a graphic novel, an experimental documentary, a web series, a game, and a live performance. Grow a new eye – is about engineering a new bionic camera eye. 

This is an awesome story.  You need to go check out Tonya’s blog page, Eye, Tanya.  Let me know if you end up supporting the project in any way, leave a comment of support here for Tanya.  I really hope that this technology advances in a direction that helps for everyone.

How It’s Made – Contact Lenses!

I have to admit – I have never been able to stick a contact lens on my own eye.  Therefore, I just don’t try to wear them!

The process of making a contact lens is pretty neat, actually – 15 steps in total (minus a hydrating procedure that takes about a day) can be preformed in about 15-20 minutes total.  Pretty interesting!  The computerized, mechanized aspect of the contact lens manufacturing is exactly how you’d imagine it to be – extremely precise.

Check out this video from the How It’s Made (JimOnLight.com LIGHT related) series on making these contact lenses.  Very interesting!

Also, not to be outdone, the making of SPECTACLES!

OH GOD, THEY TATTOOED THEIR EYEBALLS

So last night I was lying in bed looking at the news, and all of the sudden I click on something that to me read as “prison inmates tattoo eyeballs.”  What it actually was completely shocked me, so I figured, hey – I bet JimOnLight readers would LOVE this (or totally despise it), so I should certainly post about it.

The video below depicts nothing about the actual performing of the subject matter, just the results, but it’s still freaky.

These prison inmates tattooed the sclera of their eyeballs!  Can you believe that?!  How were they sure that they were only injecting that “ink” into their sclera only? I mean, under the right circumstances and on your skin tattoos can and usually do look pretty neat.  But your EYE?  Don’t they know how important that is?!  There is a reason that people who sustain damage to their eyes or even a single eye lose their vision – to my knowledge, we cannot manufacture or generate vitreous gel for the eye.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Holy cow.  The second subject interviewed in the film is in prison for 73 years, so more than likely he doesn’t have to worry about ever having non-prison employment again – but the other guy (the one with the red eyes) is in for 4 years.  Both of these men are going to have disciplinary action taken against them.

The subject said that they have no color tint in their vision, and that they still see fine. For now. I wonder what was in that “ink” they used.

Watch the video:

TED Talks: Beau Lotto, The Eyes, and The Power of Reality

Have you ever heard of the TED Talks?  TED Talks are lectures from remarkable people in the world, and they’re all free.  The best thing about the TED talks is that not only are they free (like all helpful and inspiring ideas should be) but they are actually something that gives you insight into the mind of someone truly interested in improving the world.

As you can imagine, something that deals with light and that is inspiring is of great interest to me.  I just found a great TED talk – perfect for your Friday morning in the office or at home sipping that first (or second, I suppose, at least in my case) cup of coffee.  Meet Beau Lotto – he’s a guy who is shedding light onto the long time mystery of the brain’s complex visual system.  From TED’s website about why you should watch this video:

“Let there be perception,” was evolution’s proclamation, and so it was that all creatures, from honeybees to humans, came to see the world not as it is, but as was most useful. This uncomfortable place — where what an organism’s brain sees diverges from what is actually out there — is what Beau Lotto and his team at Lottolab are exploring through their dazzling art-sci experiments and public illusions. Their Bee Matrix installation, for example, places a live bee in a transparent enclosure where gallerygoers may watch it seek nectar in a virtual meadow of luminous Plexiglas flowers. (Bees, Lotto will tell you, see colors much like we humans do.) The data captured isn’t just discarded, either: it’s put to good use in probing scientific papers, and sometimes in more exhibits.

Outside the studio work, the brain-like (that is, multidisciplinary) organization is also branching out to bigger public engagement works. It’s holding regular “synesthetic workshops” where kids and adults make “color scores” — abstract paintings that computers interpret into music, as with scrolls fed to a player piano. And lately they’re planning an outdoor walkway of color-lit, pressure-sensitive John Conway-esque tiles that react and evolve according to foot traffic. These and Lotto’s other conjurings are slowly, charmingly bending the science of perception — and our perceptions of what science can be.

Lotto teaches at University College London.

“All his work attempts to understand the visual brain as a system defined, not by its essential properties, but by its past ecological interactions with the world. In this view, the brain evolved to see what proved useful to see, to continually redefine normality.”

British Science Association

Ok, the video is more than five minutes, but it is an investment in intelligence. Check it out:

Make sure to check out some of TED’s other lectures (well worth the time), and definitely check out Beau’s laboratory, Lotto Lab.

TAKE THAT, Retina! Fovea THIS!

Hey, you wanna see the inside of my eye?  No, really.  The inside of my eye.

I’M SERIOUS!

Check it out:

right-color-jimonlight

That’s the freaking inside of my right eye – you’re looking at my right retina, optic nerve, macula, and fovea – and a ton of vessels in the background and foreground.  Obviously by now you’ve determined that the tree looking things in the bottom of the picture are my eyelashes.  Check it out in black and white – around the macula you can see a weird pattern or reflection of some kind – it looks like a lizard eye staring at you!

Oh, is that just me? [awkward]

right-bw-jimonlight

Do you know what the heck I’m talking about?  Fovea, macula, retina, etcetera?

If you know all of this already, I am glad to tell you again!

The retina is easy – it’s the large part in the picture.  The retina is the back of your eyeball, which contains the light and color receptors (rods and cones, respectively) that the brain uses to tell what’s going on visually.  It has blood vessels and stuff like that wound into it so that it can get food and oxygen to the parts of the eye that need it.

The macula and fovea are an interesting part of your eye.  When you hear of “macular degeneration” and people having problems with their visual focus, this is often something to be considered.  Check out the left eye – the macula is the spot in the picture below that looks like a violin body, or the mark on the thorax of a Black Widow spider, kind-of.  Inside of that is the fovea, which is the central point of focus in our vision:

left-zoom-fovea-jimonlight

and even better in black and white:

left-bw-zoom-fovea-jimonlight

That thing – the fovea – it’s a dip in the retina filled with rod and cone cells, and the center of it is the concentration of human visual acuity, or focus.  Around half of the information the optic nerve carries to the brain is from the fovea.  The detailed vision spot – when it is damaged, focus goes away.  The bright spot is the optic nerve going to the brain, sending messages of everything you see.

The macula is the kind-of yellow-y area surrounding the fovea and containing the fovea – the fovea is essentially the center of the macula.

I always equated the process of sending the images from the eye to the brain like sending a RAW file.

Check out a color shot of my left eye:

left-color-jimonlight

followed by the black and white:

left-BW-jimonlight

Here’s another term – ischemia.  This is a reason to lose weight and be healthy for anyone.  An ischemia is a complete lack of blood flow to a portion of the body, and that starved portion dies.  Here’s a little game I’ll play – somewhere in one of my eyes I have an ischemia from an old high blood pressure episode.  Think you know what it looks like?  The first person between now and December 31 who correctly locates the ischemia, I’ll send you a $10 Amazon gift certificate.  You have to highlight the ischemia in one of the pictures in this post and email me your guess.

The human body is full of wonder, isn’t it?