A SCIENTIFIC breakthrough in Spain has led to a blind woman to gain back enough sight to perceive shapes and colours.
Bernardeta Gomez became the first person to receive a brain implant developed by a scientific team at the Miguel Hernández University of Elche in Alicante province.
The pioneering operation was carried out on the 57-year-old former biology teacher who lost her sight 16 years ago after suffering a nerve disorder.
It involved a small plate containing 96 electrodes being implanted in the cerebral cortex and connected to a pair of glasses which act as an artificial retina.
The glasses capture visuals and transform them into electrical impulses sending them to the plate, replicating the brain function of a sighted person.
The device is safe as it doesn’t affect the function of the cerebral cortex or the neurons surrounding the implant.
This is hopeful as it shows that even after years of blindness, the brain can process visual information.
“I started to see narrow bars, wide bars, squares… and then I learned to distinguish patterns. I was able to perceive a human face and the face of a dog,” Gomez said.
The Journal of Clinical Investigation published details of the study concluding that “the results demonstrate the safety and efficacy of chronic intracortical micro stimulation via a large number of electrodes in human visual cortex, showing its high potential for restoring functional vision in the blind.”