Bionic eye restores man’s vision

July 3, 2016

This article is from

Steve McMillin learned at age 32 he had Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic disease that would stop his retinas from functioning. By 49, he was completely blind.

He kept up to date on new research emerging and heard about the bionic retina, a retinal prosthesis device that sends electrical impulses to the remaining retinal cells and restores limited vision patterns.

“They take the lens off the top of your eye, remove the vitrious fluid and install a six-by-ten grid of electrodes in your eye,” said McMillin.

Last June, Steve became the twentieth patient in the US to receive the device when he had his surgery at Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute

He can see vague, black and white images.

“So you can tell, well, there’s the road, there’s a driveway, there’s a mailbox, there’s a shrub. Am I veering off track? It’s another tool in the toolbox and, boy, it’s a big tool,” McMillin says.

When asked what the most important thing he saw after ten years of blindness was, he replied, “To go out in the moonlight and see your wife’s face.”




Pigs Used to Cure Blindness

May 24, 2016

In July, an artificial bioengineered cornea that Chinese scientists spent more than 10 years developing will go into mass production. The corneas come from the eyes of pigs. Doctors say this will help close the gap between 4 million  blind patients and 5,000 donors.


Medical workers implant a pig-derived cornea into a patient’s eye in a hospital in Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei Province.

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April 7, 2016

The NC State Library for the Legally Blind offers downloadable talking books, magazines and braille through two services.

1. BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) is a national program through which users can borrow braille and audio books. You must apply for this service. Format: digital talking books and braille

2. NOBLE (North Carolina BARD Local) is a local service through which users can download braille and audio books, magazines, and podcasts. No application is necessary. Format: digital talking book, podcasts, digital braille

Still with low-vision, I am now an I-Pad Pro user and have recently downloaded the BARD ap to my I-Pad Pro.  The BARD ap come from the NC Library for the Blind and it is their digital book collection.  A low-vision user will definitely need a sighted person to help them set this up.  Unfortunately,  the steps to set up this ap do not seem user friendly and require many steps.  Even with a sighted helper you might still need to contact the NC Libraries BARD tech support people to help with the set-up but once this has happened/ it is definitely worth the effort.
    I was able to download two books that I have been wanting to read and the download happened only in a few minutes.  Once the books are downloaded there is a quick and easy navigational system that is easy to learn.
    I have been trying to locate and read this  book for many years.  The book has dense and difficult material so it is hard/ if not impossible to find a personal reader to read this book to me.  I have been trying to read this book on my Clear Reader Plus but I can usually only read a few pages at a time.  So now that this book has been downloaded  to my BARD ap I can read this book quickly and easily.
    It is a new world and I am excited to be able to finally have access to the books I want
to read.
Lauren Tappen

Facebook Helps the Blind See Photos

April 5, 2016

Facebook is using AI to help blind people ‘see’ the photos in their newsfeed
Facebook recently announced its automatic alternative text, which describes the content of a photo as a user moves past it, giving blind users more context for the image.

iphone facebook

iPhone speaks: “Image may contain pizza, food”

On Monday, April 4, Facebook introduced automatic alternative text, a feature that uses object recognition technology to form a description of a given photo as the user passes over it. While using the Facebook app on an iOS device, the feature would tell the user that the image “may contain three people, smiling, outdoors,” according to the official Facebook press release.

Many blind smartphone users rely on screen reader software to respond to texts, compose emails, and surf Facebook. As the name would imply, the tool reads the text on a given screen aloud to the user. However, previous iterations could only tell the user that a photo was present, it could not describe the photo or give any context.

So, for example, if a user was scrolling through his or her Facebook feed, the screen reader would read out the person’s name who posted the photo and then simply say “Photo.” Now, with automatic alternative text, Facebook is hoping it can better describe the content of photos for users who may be blind or visually impaired.

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Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind

December 21, 2014

The following is from Lauren Tappan:

The Chicago Lighthouse has a helpful website and several videos on YouTube showing how to use assistive technology devices such as the KNFB Reader App, the Victor Reader Stream, the Eyepal ROL, etc.

Minds Eye Travel

November 30, 2014

The following by Lauren Tappan:

Mind’s Eye Travel is an organization that creates tours for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Our prices include sighted guide assistance and help with the following:

Immigration Documents
Boarding Passes
Cruise Line Bag Tags
Embarkation & Disembarkation
Orientation While Onboard Ship
Shore Excursions
Braille Menus (when available)
Airline Bookings

Passau to Budapest
Viking River Longship Njord
8 Days, 6 Guided Tours, 4 Countries
May 2, 2015

This 8-day itinerary takes you through four of Europe’s most enchanting
countries along the storied Danube River; Austria, Germany, Hungary and
Slovakia. Explore Budapest’s imperial and Art Nouveau delights, and take a
comprehensive tour of beautiful Bratislava’s baroque and Gothic buildings
and fountains. In Austria, discover why Vienna is “the waltz capital,” sail
through the spectacular Wachau Valley, and explore the cobblestone streets
and charming town squares of Dürnstein. And in Germany, admire Passau’s
ancient fortress and Italianate architecture. Includes a tour of the
900-year-old baroque Benedictine abbey at Melk and a full-day excursion to
the scenic city of Salzburg.

for more info:

Seeing Eye Shoes

August 9, 2014

Totally New Navigation Assistive Device

Indian wearable tech startup Ducere Tech has created smart shoes called Lechal that can give the wearer directions without needing to look at a smartphone. Lechal translates as “take me there” in Hindi.

Lechal shoe

The user enters her destination into the Lechal app using Google Maps or a similar navigation app. From this point on, the company claims, she no longer needs to look at her phone. The app connects via Bluetooth to a module that slides into the back of the shoe. The right or left shoe then buzzes depending on which direction the user should turn.

For more info: