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Some Guy Named Jake and His Live Eye Surgery! [Graphic, So, Um, FYI]

LASIK-Procedure

There’s a video on Vimeo posted by a user named JakeLV426.

Jake had eye surgery.  Jake got the video of his eye surgery!

For all of you out there who think this is as freaking cool as I do, check it out!  It’s ten minutes of delicate surgery on the eyeball.  This is so cool.  I pondered Ophthalmology as a career at one point in my life, so these kinds of operative videos blow my mind!

Just a heads up for the squeamish, this is a real, live eyeball undergoing a real, live eyeball surgery.

Jakes Eye surgery from JakeLV426 on Vimeo.

How Well Do YOU Know Light? Take Our Quiz, Come Find OUT! COME ON!

LIGHTQUIZ

So, how well DO you know Light?

Are you an expert?
Just practicing?
Are you a know-it-all?
Are you a poser?!

(Wow, it’s not all THAT serious…)

Take the JimOnLight.com Quiz!

How Well Do You Know Light?

Come on, Lighting Designers and Nerds of Illumination -- come see how you fare in a quiz over Light and Lighting terms! We'll cover the Human Eye, light coming AND going, and some other awesome things to learn!
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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.

What Exactly are Eye Floaters?

“I’ll look over there!”

“I’ll move over HERE!”

“You got an answer for everything.”

So.  Have you ever been looking at a book, the sky, or anything really, and seen what most people call “eye floaters?”  You know, the really weird almost chromosome-looking things that seem to just effortlessly and painlessly dance across our vision whenever the hell they want?  Like so:

These little buggers are the product of eye aging and the disintegration of the goo inside the eyeball itself.  If you’ve ever spent any time at all staring at eye floaters, you know that they can be fairly entertaining!

Inside of the eye ball, there is a liquid that gives the eye its shape and acts as a light medium (consequently with a Refractive Index of 1.336) to get light to the retina.  This liquid isn’t quite a liquid and isn’t quite a gel, but the consistency of it is sort of like that of Jell-O.  it’s called the Vitreous Humor, or the Vitreous body, or simply just the Vitreous.  This stuff is pretty neat, as it’s completely transparent as we’re born through teen-hood.  The vitreous is made of about 99% water, along with some sugars, some salts, some collagen fibers, and these pretty cool cells called phagocytes.  The phagocytes’ main purpose is to hunt down and kill foreign bodies in the eye’s vitreous body and visual field.  Pretty cool, eh?

The vitreous body is a stagnant body of fluid; it does not have a regeneration process either, which means if you sustain some damage to an eye or both, they’re gone, as once the vitreous is gone, it is gone forever.  This is a great reason to ALWAYS wear safety goggles and eye protection whenever you’re doing something that could impact the eye ball.  I had a pretty scary experience one summer when I was still in undergraduate study, away on an opera tour.  I was building the set we were touring, and a piece of a table saw blade sheared away and shot itself right into my eyeball.  I spent several hours at the hospital as the doc tried to grab that piece of metal and dislodge it from my eyeball, about 3 millimeters from the edge of my pupil.  I got lucky.  I did have safety glasses on, too – which goes to show you that you can never be too careful.  After the ER doc dug that piece of blade out of my eye, they inserted a plastic lens attached to a bag of saline that drained around my eyeball to clean out any extra debris.  The resulting pic was pretty hilarious, and I was in good spirits, making jokes.  Ann Davis, thingmaker extraordinaire, took the photo, circa 1998:

As we get older, parts of the Vitreous degenerate and clump, creating the little eye floaters we’re so fond of seeing.  These things remain in the eye for as long as we are old, until we either A) die, or B) have them surgically removed.  For most people these things aren’t a problem at all, we just deal with them.  For some, however, they become so numerous and so vision-impairing that surgery IS required for removal of all of the clumped bits of whatever matter the eye floaters are made from — old proteins, bits of clumped collagen cell bundles, foreign bodies, retinal cells, etcetera.

Eye floaters do have some different types — from Wikipedia’s entry on floaters:

The common type of floater, which is present in most people’s eyes, is due to degenerative changes of the vitreous humour. The perception of floaters is known as myodesopsia, or less commonly as myiodeopsiamyiodesopsia, or myodeopsia.  They are also called Muscae volitantes (from the Latin, meaning “flying flies”), or mouches volantes (from the French). Floaters are visible because of the shadows they cast on the retina or their refraction of the light that passes through them, and can appear alone or together with several others in one’s field of vision. They may appear as spots, threads, or fragments of cobwebs, which float slowly before the observer’s eyes.  Since these objects exist within the eye itself, they are not optical illusions but are entoptic phenomena.

What I find cool about eye floaters is that you’re actually seeing the shadow of the floaters on your retina, like a Linnebach projector.  Remember those?  As the light passes through the iris, it blows through the vitreous body and the floaters get in the way, causing shadows on the retina that your brain decodes as the floaters’ shape and size.

Now let me say this — most times, eye floaters are harmless bits of entertainment that all people have in some form or another.  However, sometimes eye floaters can be indications of a larger problem, like eye disease brought around by diabetes, carotid artery disease, or even as an indicator of a stroke or heart attack that may be imminent.  Sometimes eye floaters might be accompanied by flashes of light; this is a certain time to hit the doctor’s office.  A lesser known ailment, one that keeps on giving, per se, is ocular herpes.  As scary as that sounds, it is!  The vitreous can also become detached, too — as you age, the vitreous body sort of liquefies and detaches from the retina, which also causes eye floaters.  I’m certainly not a doctor, and you should use your own judgement when it comes to your health.  But if you have lots and lots and lots of floaters, perhaps it’s time to visit your doc.

A detailed article about determining when your eye floaters might indicate a larger problem is here – check it out.

Some fun facts on eye floaters, from Today I Found Out:

  • Interestingly, if the eye floaters would just stay still instead of floating around, your brain would automatically tune them out and you’d never consciously see them.  Your brain does this all the time with things both in and outside of your eyes.  One example of this inside your eye are blood vessels in the eye which obstruct light; because they are fixed in location, relative to the retina, your brain tunes them out completely and you don’t consciously perceive them.
  • The reason you can see floaters better when looking at, for instance, a bright blue sky, is because your pupils contract to a very small size, thus reducing the aperture, which in turn makes floaters more apparent and focused.
  • Individual floaters often won’t change much throughout your lifetime, typically retaining their basic shape and size.
  • The perception of eye floaters is known as myodesopsia.
  • The reason the floating specs never seem to stay still is because floaters, being suspended in the vitreous humor,  move when your eye moves.  So as you try to look at them, they will appear to drift with your eye movement.
  • Eye floaters are examples of entoptic phenomena.  Entoptic phenomena are things we see where the source is within the eye itself.
  • If you ever see a ton of floaters appear out of no where, possibly with some light flashes, you should get to an eye doctor immediately.  There is a chance (1 in 7) that your retina is about to detach from the back of your eye.  If that happens, you have very little time to get it fixed before it effectively dies and you go blind from that eye.
  • Floaters can damage the retina by tugging on it, sometimes producing a tear.  When a tear happens, vitreous can invade the opening in the tear, which will ultimately widen the gap and in 50% of these cases will result in the retina eventually becoming fully detached if not repaired via surgery.
  • “Light flashes” not caused by actual light, also known as photopsia, will often occur when the photoreceptors in the retina receive stimulation from being touched or from being torn.  This produces an electrical impulse to your brain, which your brain more or less interprets as a light flash.  This physical stimulation is often caused when traction is being applied while the vitreous detachment is taking place.  The flashes should subside when the vitreous finally detaches.
  • These flashes will also often temporarily occur when you get a sharp blow to the head.  The sudden jarring causes pressure on the retina; this in turn creates an electrical impulse to the brain which the brain interprets as a flash.

Thanks to About, Earth Clinic, eHow, WiseGeek, All About Vision, WikiDoc, LoveEyeFloaters, and TheBrain!

Bionic Contact Lenses?

Ok, now if I can just figure out how to put my finger that close to my eyeball, I’m golden!  Yeah.  I have never had a contact lens in my eye.

Check this out – a bionic contact lens!  Researchers at the technology company Innovega have developed (and are still developing) some pretty crazy stuff – contact lenses that allow you to be fed information and that improve your distance vision, both macro and micro.  Now we’re talking turkey here.  Check out this first video:

Then check out this one – this is from Innovega itself:

Now this could be some serious sh*t here, people. Let’s see where this develops.  From the press release at Innovega:

SEATTLE, WA., January 8, 2012 – Innovega Inc., a developer of wearable displays that are free from usual bulky optics, announced today that it has demonstrated mega-pixel eyewear in a compact and stylish form-factor. Management now intends to accelerate delivery of designs, components and licenses to selected strategic partners. Innovega will be exhibiting at the 2012 International CES event from Booth # 73403 in the Ballroom at The Venetian Hotel.

“Conventional mobile device screens are too small to read and certainly too small to enjoy. Over the past months we have demonstrated contact lens enabled eyewear for mobile devices including smartphones, portable game devices and media players that deliver panoramic, high-resolution experiences for entertainment and planned Augmented Reality (AR)* applications”, said Steve Willey, Innovega CEO. “During this same period, we collaborated with partners to finalize initial specifications of launch platforms which include a screen size that is equivalent to a 240 inch television (viewed at a usual distance of 10 feet)”.

Willey added, “Unless the display industry can deliver transparent, high-performance and compact eyewear, developers of AR and other compelling media applications will simply fail to create the excitement that consumers crave and the functionality that professional users absolutely need”.

Innovega’s new and natural interface comprises familiar, light-weight eyewear working with advanced contact lenses. One hundred million global consumers, including more than 20% of America’s 18 to 34 year-old, already wear contact lenses. With low switching costs, Innovega expects many will join other early adopter groups who wish to access rich media while remaining fully involved in their real-world activities. Management believes that consumers will be thrilled to wear and benefit from its new lens-based eyewear given the unique combination of benefits that this new interface offers.

Innovega designers and partners considered the future of personal media, social networking, and mobile computing, and converged upon an aggressive design-point that meets today’s needs as well as demands of high-performance AR which require a see-through and panoramic display interface. Innovega refers to its innovative product as a ‘lifestyle interface‘, since consumers view their digital content in a way that is similar to how they see the world around them. By providing a transparent, fashionable, and comfortable interface that is consistent with today’s active lifestyles, the architecture also eliminates the social barrier that traditional opaque and bulky video eyewear seems to create.

The Innovega iOptikTM architecture meets the demanding performance requirements of AR by eliminating the focusing optics that tend to limit the field of view of displayed media. Innovega replaces them with micro- and nano-fabricated optical elements that are integrated into otherwise conventional contact lenses. The recent demonstration of stylish, megapixel eyewear has proven the power of this proprietary architecture.

Innovega will provide the new system to media and consumer electronics OEMs who wish to design natural display interfaces that consumers want and need. Innovega believes that its new personal display interface will become an essential social media and entertainment accessory.

* Augmented Reality – Definition from “Wikipedia”: Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data … With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real-world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulatable. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world.

 Way, way cool.  Stay tuned.
Thanks to Arya-Dragonqueen for the cool bionic eye image!

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.

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?

British Doctors Tell Age-Related Macular Degernation to Suck It

Have you ever heard of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD?  Do you suffer from AMD?  It is a common form of blindness, and as you get older (hence the age related part), your macula starts to degenerate (hence the degeneration part) and you lose your detail vision.  This sucks, as there hasn’t been much that people can do about it happening until lately.  It’s not a cure per se, but it’s a new technique that doctors are saying might be able to help re-generate part of the macula that needs a bit of wakey-wakey-eggs-and-bakey.

By stimulating a part of the eye called the Bruch’s Membrane, scientists in the UK have been able to slow down degeneration of the macula, and in some cases stop it altogether.  Using a laser to “breathe some life” into the membrane, scientists have been able to wake it up a bit so that it continues to perform its function and not just sit there like a dunce.  The laser treatment takes about ten to fifteen minutes.  Crazy, huh?

Oh yeah – “hey Jim, what is the Bruch’s Membrane, and what does it do?

Bruch’s Membrane is a part of the eye behind the retina, between the retina.  Bruch’s Membrane performs a very, very important function – it removes waste products from the retina and brings in nutrients and oxygen.  You’d think that’s pretty important, huh?  Check out an eye diagram:

detail1

Bruch’s Membrane is part of the Choroid, which lives behind the retina.  When it doesn’t do its job, waste products just build up around the macula and the cells begin to die over time.  The laser treatment targets this membrane to hopefully stimulate it so it starts to perform its waste removal function:

eyesight

From the article I read about this procedure in the Daily Mail:

The technique is the brainchild of Professor John Marshall, an ophthalmologist at King’s College London who pioneered laser surgery to correct shortsightedness.

Professor Marshall, who hopes the treatment could be available in a couple of years, said: ‘It is really exciting news. It won’t bring back damaged eyesight but it may prevent AMD.’

The technique rejuvenates the ‘Bruch’s membrane’ – a thin layer that lies behind the retina.

This provides the retina’s light-sensitive cells with nutrients and removes waste created as a by-product of the way retina cells renew themselves.

But the membrane’s cells eventually lose the ability to take waste away, allowing deposits to build up.

It can then become so damaged that the retina’s lightsensitive cells start to die off. In a trial involving more than 100 diabetics, Professor Marshall found that using a laser stimulated the membrane’s tired, ageing cells into action.

After the cells were ‘ energised’ by the laser, they began to clean up the waste again.

Patients also said the treatment led to a ‘ marked improvement’ in their sight.

The non-invasive operation uses a laser modified to give pulses of light that do not damage the eye’s light-sensitive cells or cause any dangerous heating of the target area.

Professor Marshall will now treat up to 200 people with AMD in one eye as part of a second trial. Such patients usually get the disease in the other eye within three years.

He wants to see if the laser prevents the good eye losing its sight. ‘If you can delay the onset by three, four, six, seven or ten years, it’s proof of the principle,’ he said.

Tom Pey, of Guide Dogs for the Blind, which funded the research, said: ‘This is potentially a huge breakthrough for millions. The science behind it is proven.’

The Macular Disease Society said: ‘If this works, then it’s very exciting. However, it will be years before this could be ready for use.’

Let’s hope we read more about this in the very near future!

The Bucha Effect

I posted an article about the Purkinje Effect a while ago – I wanted to share another light-related physiological effect, because they’re so fascinating!  Now obviously I have a high amount of fascination with the eye because, you know, it’s awesome – but it is such a complex component that is connected in so many ways to everything!

The Bucha Effect is a seizure-inducing phenomenon that was discovered in the 1950’s by a doctor (Dr. Bucha, of course) who was investigating a series of helicopter accidents.  The phenomenon is when someone gets dizzy or confused when exposed to flashing or strobing lights at between 1 and 20 Hz – in the case of the helicopter accidents, the rotor blades of the helicopter caused the sunlight to  strobe in the eyes of the pilots, causing them to lose control of the craft.  Dr. Bucha discovered that the strobing could cause flashes of light at the same frequency of brain waves, causing symptoms of epilepsy.

Not surprisingly, the Bucha Effect has also been refined and formulated into a crowd control device, and has been considered for non-lethal weaponizing.  You’re not surprised, right?

From a paper called The Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project (BNLWRP) – it’s a PDF link:

The U.S. military has funded development of various ‘dazzlers’ or ‘illuminators’ such as the Saber 20335, the Hinder Adversaries with Less-than-lethal Technology (HALT) system, and the Laser Dissuader all of which use red diode lasers36 to temporarily blind or obscure vision. The manufacturers of the Laser Dissuader also produce the LazerShield, which incorporates a red diode laser on a plastic shield and is designed for use in law enforcement for incapacitating prisoners.  Future plans for the HALT include the capability for dual red and blue wavelengths that flicker off and on to mitigate filtering by single-wavelength goggles.

The U.S. Government also funded a project to produce the Laser Dazzler38, which uses a random flashing green laser. There are concerns, however, over eye safety in relation to these devices.  A similar system under development by the U.S. Marine Corps Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD)40 is the Veiling Glare Laser, which uses violet light to cause the human eye to fluoresce so that the subject can see only glare.  Some scientists are uncertain as to both the effectiveness and safety of using this technique.  So far it has only been tested on cadaver lenses and its potential for eye damage remains unclear.

Again, why can’t we cure cancer?