This medical video looks at the amazing new technology that allows people who suffer from Macular Degeneration to have eye implants.
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Stanley Boben: When I look at somebody, and look in their face, I can't distinguish any of their facial features. Jennifer Mathews: To 84-years-old Stanley Boben the outside world looks bright but the center goes dark. Stanley Boben: It's just like a haze or a cloud in front of your face. Jennifer Mathews: He's among a million Americans with macular degeneration. It destroys retinal cells in the back of the eye called rods and cones. They help other cells turn reflected light into shapes and images. At Stanford University, Dr. Harvey Fishman hopes to perfect implanted microchips to restore lost vision. Dr. Harvey Fishman: What we're doing with our chip is we're trying to basically substitute for the rods and cones that get destroyed. Jennifer Mathews: The technology works like a smart seltzer bottle. When the chip senses light, it signals tiny spouts to squirt neurotransmitters, chemicals that instruct other cells what to do. Dr. Harvey Fishman: And what you're looking at is the cell body and this whole process lighting up in response to neurotransmitters being squirted. Jennifer Mathews: The chip's chemical supply might last 150 years. But it may be at least five years before the first human clinical trials. For now, the only options are therapies like light sensitive drugs, the reason Stanley wears sunglasses. Dr. Harvey Fishman: People are going to be living longer because we have tremendous technology for the heart, for the brain, and we would hate for people to be in a scenario where everything is working, but they can't see. Jennifer Mathews: Retinal chips may help 50,000 people a year see a bright, clear world. This is Jennifer Mathews reporting.