Oral Device Helping The Blind “See” in a New Way…

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” ― Albert Einstein

Thinking outside of the box.  That’s just what Albert Einstein’s genius tells us.  The FDA is now allowing for the marketing of a new oral device to aid in visual impairment. The BrainPort V100, by WiCab Inc., is a battery-powered device that includes a video camera mounted on a pair of glasses and a small, flat intra-oral device containing a series of electrodes that the user holds against their tongue. Software converts the image captured by the video camera in to electrical signals that are then sent to the intra-oral device and perceived as vibrations or tingling on the user’s tongue. With training and experience, the user learns to interpret the signals to determine the location, position, size, and shape of objects, and to determine if objects are moving or stationary. 

Purpose: Neuronal reorganization after blindness is of critical interest because it has implications for the rational prescription of artificial vision devices.

Purpose: Neuronal reorganization after blindness is of critical interest because it has implications for the rational prescription of artificial vision devices.

Basically, what the device does is convert visual data into electrical stimuli.

This device does not replace a cane or a guide dog.  It is designed to improve spatial awareness, object recognition and assist in mobility.  According to the National Eye Institute more than 1.2 million Americans, over 40-years old, are clinically blind.  By 2030 the number is expected to double.

Prevalence of Adult Vision Impairment and Age-Related Eye Diseases in America

Estimated Number of Cases by Vision Problem Age ≥ 40
AMD* 2,069,403
Cataract 24,409,978
Diabetic Retinopathy 7,685,237
Glaucoma 2,719,379

* Age-related macular degeneration, age 50 and older

(Based on 2010 U.S. Census populations. Total Population ≥ 40 = 142,648,393.)

The statistics in age groups 65+ are staggering.  I would encourage clicking on the links above to view the actual numbers associated with the adult vision impairment rates.  As dental professionals, we tend to focus on the huge strides dental implants have made in changing our senior quality of life.  With the recent advances in science and technology, we can now improve the visual quality of life and truly Take The Scenic Route!

 

References:

National Eye Institute: 04/2016

WiCab, Inc.: 09/2016

FDA: 07/2015