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Patients who are losing their vision because of degenerative eye diseases can be trained to see better using "islands" of the retina that are still functioning, say researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).
Rehabilitation begins with mapping the visual acuity of 27 discrete locations on the retina where functioning cells may be found mixed in among diseased areas. Relying on technology developed at UIC, researchers using the system, called functional microperimetry, take precise measurements of the visual acuity at each location. A device attached to an ophthalmologist's slit lamp presents letters to the patient at different focal points on the retina. The data, which show which cells are functioning, are recorded electronically, producing a three-dimensional chart of each location's ability to resolve images.
Mitka M. Improving Sight. JAMA. 2001;285(8):1008. doi:10.1001/jama.285.8.1008