A device that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration allows the blind to see by using a part of the body they would normally taste with.

The BrainPort V100 is a device that takes visual information from sensors in a pair of dark glasses and sends it to electrodes in a box that the patient places on their tongue. It uses a recently researched concept called sensory substitution.

The company says about 69 percent of those who have used the device have been able to identify an object with it with a year or less of training. It’s interesting to note that while the sensations are taken in by the tongue and sent down its nerve system, the information is shared with the visual part of the brain to make use of it. One user of the device said it was like “tasting braille.”

Sensory substitution has recently been more accepted by the FDA as a concept allowing other applications to possibly come to the market. It is a fascinating technique that likely has to be tried to have any idea how the experience feels and works. Hopefully, this kind of novel approach can aid those with sensory challenges.

Dr. Jace Picken is an optometrist at Prairie Vision Center in Wahpeton

Load comments