Seeing Isn't Believing

Seeing Isn't Believing

Sunday, April 7, 2002
| John 20:19-31

Thanks to a new "eye opening" technology, a 63-year-old man who went blind in the 1960s can once again view the world around him. The patient, identified only as "Jerry," is one of the first people to receive an experimental seeing device that restores sight by artificially stimulating the brain.

Jerry had to see it to believe it. Or, more accurately, he had to be able to see WITH it to believe it.

Dr. William Dobelle created the innovative device after 30 years of research in vision correction for the blind. The invention includes a mini-camera connected to a pair of sunglasses and a dictionary-size computer that a patient carries on a belt pack.

But getting the device to work was no easy task. First, Jerry had to undergo brain surgery. Surgeons implanted a small piece of platinum foil between Jerry's brain and the dura, a membrane that surrounds the brain. The foil is covered with electrodes - tiny metal pieces that conduct electric pulses which connect directly to brain cells that control sight. The electrodes are attached to a wire that protrudes from Jerry's skull through a small hole and hooks up to his computer.

No one ever said that restoring vision was going to be a pretty sight.

For Jerry to see an image, the camera on his sunglasses first snaps a picture. This image...

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