Globally, approximately forty million people suffer from blindness. Loss of vision greatly affects one’s autonomy, quality of life, and ability to work. Restoration of vision in the blind is an important goal with tremendous societal benefits. For some people, restoration of visual function can be achieved through the electrical activation of neurons in the visual cortex of the brain. Combining the latest models from Artificial Intelligence (AI) of the visual world, with improvements to microelectrode design, visual images can be created in the human brain by carefully placed implants by a neurosurgeon.
Building on the success of a previous €1.8M project financed by the Dutch government (NWO) to develop these visual prostheses as a proof-of-concept, our next step in a recently awarded NWO Crossover project is to implement the first clinical trials involving cortical brain implants for the blind by 2025.