Sound for Sore Eyes

What if we could save sight…with SOUND?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science saying…

Okay, not just any sound…ULTRAsound! Yep, the same technology we use to SEE babies before they’re born. Can it also be used to restore vision?

Enter Xuejun Qian and team from the University of Southern California. 

They wondered if ultrasound waves could stimulate cells used for seeing. Normally, these cells are activated by light, but they can also respond to pressure. This is why bright spots appear when you gently press on your closed eyeballs. 

The researchers created an ultrasound device that delivered mechanical waves to blind rats’ eyes. They directly measured activity in the part of the rats’ brains that process visual information. Then, they compared brain activity in response to light versus in response to their ultrasound device.

And? They detected brain activity when stimulated by ultrasound, but NOT light! The researchers believe this technology has the potential to treat blindness in humans without surgery. 

Looks like we DON’T need to see the light! Oops, was that too CORNEA? Sorry

Reference: Qian, X., Lu, G., Thomas, B. B., Li, R., Chen, X., Shung, K. K., Humayun, M., & Zhou, Q. (2022). Noninvasive ultrasound retinal stimulation for vision restoration at high spatiotemporal resolution. BME Frontiers, 2022, 1–13.