Bionic Eye to Aid the Blind Ready for Human Trials

By Eric Mack – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

Biomedical engineering is closing in on a device that can help the blind see, according to the U.K.’s Daily Star.

A bionic eye is set to be implanted into humans for the first time, as the University of Sydney, Australia, seeks human trials before a potential release of the “Phoenix 99 Bionic Eye.”

austrailian prime minister kevin rudd looks at the prototype for a bionic eye with includes a pair of glasses.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd inspects a prototype bionic eye which will deliver improved quality of life for patients suffering from degenerative vision loss. (WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

The device plants a microchip in the eye which processes wireless images from a tiny camera in a pair of glasses, according to biomedical engineering professor Gregg Suaning to the Daily Star.

“Users of the bionic eye would see pixelated image that deliver outlines and edges allowing them to navigate their surroundings and help them carry out activities of daily living,” Suaning told the Star. “We hope it will allow people with vision loss to identify if a person, doorway or window is nearby.

“. . . Instructions are sent to a telemetry device implanted behind the patient’s ear, and then as electrical impulses which the brain interprets as a vision. The system has been designed to stimulate cells in the retina and help the brain interpret them to deliver a sense of vision in the user.

“If successful we can work to bring the device to a point were regularly approvals in the global market can be obtained.”

Australian Minister for trade and industry Niall Blair praised the innovation.

“The idea of bionics first leapt into the public imagination with the 1970s science fiction action television series the Six Million Dollar Man,” Blair told the Star. “But Professor Gregg Suaning and his team at the University of Sydney are helping bring it to reality after developing microchip technology to give a sense of vision for those who have lost theirs.

“This is fantastic innovation with potential to change the lives of millions of people who are losing sight from conditions like retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration.”


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