Blind people have always been with us. The attitudes of societies has varied over the years from disgust and horror to sympathy and kindness. How a painter depicts whether a subject cannot see in contrast to those who can us an interesting subject with a surprising number of examples. Some if these images clearly reveal the painters attitudes to blinding disability. Many are sensitive and beautiful creations in their own right. Looking at these works of art challenges our own preconceptions about blind people.
Recent technological improvements have allowed further miniaturisation of electronic components. This has allowed the implantation of devices that can replace the initial photoreception by rods and cones in patients with absence of these cells from disease. Artificial vision is also needed for independently mobile machines. Understanding the human visual system has also led to improvements of robot navigation. For instance programming robots with visual illusions improves their performance in complex environments. Seeing robots and blind patients with artificial vision are already a reality. Truly amazing inventions are just steps away. What was thought impossible ten years ago is now commonplace. What will the next yen years reveal to us?
Gene therapy, stem cells antibodies, RNA interference and nanotechnology have all been investigated as potential treatments for a variety of eye diseases. Some of these have already entered clinical use whilst others remain in investigational stage. These new exciting and exotic sounding technologies are likely to play an increasing role in eye-care. What they are, how they work and what they are likely to achieve will be discussed in this lecture.
A number of infectious diseases cause blindness. After decades of improvement in treatment many were thought to be on the edge of extinction. Whilst this was achieved with smallpox, the promise if eradication of trachoma and river blindness remains elusive. Furthermore the increasing resistance if organisms to antibiotics is becoming and urgent challenge in all parts of the world. The resurgence if Tuberculosis is a particular problem. How these organisms cause disease, blindness, how they are treated and how we may eradicate them concerns each and every one of us. The answer is becoming more difficult and more urgent to find.
The first successful solid organ transplant was the cornea in Moravia in 1905. However both science and clinical tools then available were unable to allow further advances. The discovery of the natural barriers to transplantation enabled understanding of the biology of transplants and now livers, hearts, kidneys and corneas are routinely transplanted. In ophthalmology the advances in microsurgery and microscopes have led to better visual outcomes and less loss of donor organs. Indeed it is now possible to transplant each individual layer of the cornea. These breathtaking procedures have revolutionised the treatment of blinding diseases of the eye. Attention is now turning to developing techniques for transplanting retinal tissues opening up potential hope for those suffering from macular degeneration, the commonest cause of loss if sight in the elderly population.
Deliberately blinding opponents has always been part of warfare. Sophisticated protective armour has ancient origins. With the incrementally rising incidence of eye injuries with each successive modern war, eye protection had to be re-invented with often bizarre results. As the face and eye became a major site of injury; modern plastic surgery was created from the carnage of the trenches in WWI. Further advances occurred with the treatment of burned pilots in the Second World War. The co-operation of artists, sculptors and surgeons led to rehabilitation of many of these people and to a change in public perception of patients with such injuries. An extraordinary story of extraordinary people reveals how the dedication and humanity of these surgeons led to much that we take for granted in our modern world.
Vision is the dominant sense through which sighted people have developed our culture. It requires enormous computational power: over half of the human brain is assigned to create vision from the electrical impulses generated by light. Since ancient times, the beauty of the visual world has fascinated us. People born blind have learned extraordinary strategies. Integration of this information will allow robots to function more efficiently and give blind people new insights on their environment. This is a part of Professor Ayliffe's 2012/2013 series of lectures as Gresham Professor of Physic. The other lectures in this series include: The Aging Eye The Evolution of Vision Vision and the Artist Animal Eyes Technology and Vision
The discipline of Ophthalmology is recognised both as an early adopter of new technology and a developer of novel techniques. Soon after lasers were invented, they were being used to treat diabetic eyes and new lasers developed into exquisite tools for reshaping the cornea in refractive surgery. In electronics the possibility of artificial vision in blind people and robots is becoming reality. In biology, advances in transplantation science have increased the numbers of treatable conditions. From stem cells to genetic manipulation, technological advances have the potential to cure blindness in ways not thought possible a decade ago. This is a part of Professor Ayliffe's 2012/2013 series of lectures as Gresham Professor of Physic. The other lectures in this series include: The Aging Eye The Evolution of Vision Vision and the Artist Animal Eyes The Window on the Soul
How does my dog see? Do eagles have better vision than humans? This homocentric view of vision with its associated mythology is explored in this review of survival strategies used by various animals in their environments. The way we see is predicated by what we need to see. From prawns to birds we will explore how eyes have adapted to be perfect for the tasks assigned to them. No longer can we claim that our human vision is the standard by which other animals must be judged as either inferior or superior. This is a part of Professor Ayliffe's 2012/2013 series of lectures as Gresham Professor of Physic. The other lectures in this series include: The Aging Eye The Evolution of Vision Vision and the Artist Technology and Vision The Window on the Soul
Visual disorders affect the way we see, and therefore would be expected to influence how we depict the world in drawings and paintings. This fascinating subject is explored using images created by artists with known defects. We examine how possible defects in the vision of artists for whom we have little information about their eyesight, might explain how they produced their individual style. How the physiology of vision is deliberately used by artists to create stunning visual effects, and how ancient artists achieved similar results by deduction will be explored. This is a part of Professor Ayliffe's 2012/2013 series of lectures as Gresham Professor of Physic. The other lectures in this series include: The Aging Eye The Evolution of Vision Animal Eyes Technology and Vision The Window on the Soul