Device helps the blind to see | NevadaAppeal.com

Device helps the blind to see

Kathleen Hom
The Washington Post

The small degree of vision that diabetes-induced hemorrhaging in her eyes had left her with vanished because of injuries in an auto accident, says Elizabeth Goldring, a senior fellow at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies. After several months of being blind, the artist and poet was amazed to find that when her ophthalmologist projected images onto her retina with a concentrated stream of light, she saw them.

The projection device, called a scanning laser ophthalmoscope, or SLO, was being used to determine if Goldring had any healthy retina left, but Goldring thought it could be much more than a diagnostic tool. She wanted to create an accessible version (SLOs are expensive and bulky) so blind people with some healthy retina might see photos of words, scenes and people’s faces.

Twenty years have passed, along with three prototypes. And now Goldring and her research team have come up with a portable and relatively inexpensive “seeing machine.”

Because the device contains an LED light rather than a laser, its projected cost is $500 ” cheaper than the $3,000 readers often marketed to the visually impaired, she says. Plus, a visually impaired person can operate it independently. A user can connect it to any camera, flip the device’s on/off switch and aim the camera to take a photo.

The next step is further testing.