Artificial vision device stimulates the visual cortex

June 14, 2002 | Source:

A neurosurgeon has become the first U.S. doctor to implant an artificial vision device that allows a blind patient to see using a video camera’s image that stimulates the visual cortex of the brain.

Kenneth R. Smith Jr., M.D., professor of neurosurgery at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, performed the two- to three-hour surgical procedure in Lisbon, Portugal, in April.

Patients use special sunglasses fitted with a miniature television camera and a microcomputer and stimulator. The gear attaches by cable to a tiny fire hydrant-like device implanted in the back of the skull that connects to electrodes on the surface of the visual part of the brain.

Patients don’t have “normal” vision. Instead, they see white flashes of light and learn to interpret the patterns so they can gain mobility.

The system is designed for patients who have lost their vision from an injury and are not candidates for retinal implants.

The artificial vision system is being presented June 13 at the 48th annual meeting of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs in New York.

Futuristic System Brings Vision to Blind