Eye Implants for Cats Hold Potential for Human Vision
Kristina Narfstrom, an MU veterinary ophthalmologist, has been working with a microchip implant to help blind animals "see."
"About one in 3,500 people worldwide is affected with a hereditary disease, retinitis pigmentosa, that causes the death of retinal cells and, eventually, blindness," Narfstrom says. "Our current study is aimed at determining safety issues in regard to the implants and to further develop surgical techniques. We also are examining the protection the implants might provide to the retinal cells that are dying due to disease progression with the hope that natural sight can be maintained much longer than would be possible in an untreated patient."
Narfstrom, the Ruth M. Kraeuchi-Missouri Professor in Veterinary Ophthalmology, is working primarily with Abyssinian and Persian cats that are affected with hereditary retinal blinding disease. The cat's eye is a good model to use for this type of research because it is very similar to a human eye in size and construction. The preliminary results, Narfstrom says, have been promising.
"We are really excited about the potential uses for this technology and the potential to create improved vision in some of the millions of people affected worldwide with retinal blindness," Narfstrom said.
Bionic Eye WMV, 3.4MB
Illumination Magazine: Vet Visionary (Spring, 2007)