(April Greer/For The Washington Post)

Sheila Nirenberg spoke at The Post’s 2016 Transformers live journalism event May 18 in Washington, D.C. Learn more here.

“For a normal person, images come in and they land on your photoreceptors.

“An image ultimately gets converted into a code and it’s a code that the brain understands. When a person’s brain gets this pattern of pulses, it knows that out there was this baby’s face. If it got a different pattern of pulses, it would know that it was a car or dog.

“When a person gets a retinal degenerative disease like macular degeneration, the photoreceptors die. But the output cells, the cells at the end, they still work. If we can make a device that can interact with these output cells and send the code in, then we could restore sight to the blind. It sounds dramatic.”

Sheila Nirenberg
Neuroscientist
Cornell University