The FDA has approved the first “bionic eye,” actually called the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System (Second Sight Medical Products), a device designed to provide electrical stimulation of the retina to induce visual perception in blind patients with retinitis pigmentosa. While the Argus II will not restore vision to patients, it may allow them to detect light and dark, and aid them in identifying the location or movement of objects or people. The company expects the device to be available later this year.

Despite a strong preference for paper books, older readers actually have an easier time reading electronic tablets, or e-readers, such as the Kindle or Nook. When researchers evaluated eye movements and brain activity measures, older adults fared better with backlit digital readers than with paper books, according to a study in the open access journal PLOS ONE. Based on the physiological measures, the researchers suggest that older readers may benefit from the enhanced contrast on electronic reading devices due to better text discrimination on the backlit displays.

Ten days of complete darkness restored visual acuity in subjects with amblyopia—however, the subjects in this experiment were kittens. Researchers in Canada investigated the possibility that a period of total darkness might “reset the central visual pathways to a more plastic stage and hence increase the capacity for recovery,” they reported in the February 14 issue of Current Biology. It worked in kittens and, they theorize, short (10-day) periods of darkness may boost recovery from amblyopia in humans.