UW News

April 4, 2017

The science of sight: Transplant recipient, UW professor to share perspectives on vision restoration

UW News

When Michael May regained his sight through an innovative corneal transplant, his visual processing abilities proved elusive.

Mike May

Mike MayBruce Brown

May, then of California and blind since an accident at age 3, had his sight restored through a stem-cell procedure in 2000. But what he could see afterward remained limited — colors, motion and some shapes. That prompted University of Washington researchers to study what happened to May, and to learn more about how vision develops and how the brain responds when vision returns. The result was a paper in 2015 that described the visual processing skills, such as of objects and faces, that were acutely impacted during a key stage of their development.

Now May, along with UW psychology professor Geoffrey Boynton, will speak about their experiences at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, at Kane Hall.

The event, “Seeing the World through New Eyes: Sight Restoration from the Perspective of a Scientist and a Patient,” is part of the 12th annual Allen L. Edwards Psychology Lectures series.

Boynton will discuss his research into “virtual patients” that simulate restored vision, while May — who worked at the CIA and has had a career in business — will talk about his efforts to see.

Register for the free lecture here.