Visual prostheses, also known as “Bionic Eyes”, promise the possibility of artificial vision for visually impaired individuals. The device is made up of micro-electrodes that are surgically implanted in the eye or close to it either in the optic nerve (which transmits nerve impulses through the eyes to the brain) or inside the brain. However, one of the most important questions that seem to be a concern is can Bionic Eye see color?
The Bionic Eyes work by stimulating micro-electrodes in the eye system give vision to blinds. They do this by making tiny electrical impulses like those found in bionic ears or cochlear implants.
Can Bionic Eye see color after decoding these electrical impulses? Through the stimulation of the surviving neurons, it causes the brain to see tiny spots of light, also known as Phosphenes. In medical terms, Phosphenes are a way of seeing light.
Does this mean that a person with Bionic Eyes will be able to have clear vision like people with natural sight? To answer this, let’s understand the functioning of Bionic Eye Implants, how helpful it is in restoring vision to the blinds, and Can Bionic Eyes see Color!
Difference Between Normal Eyesight And Sight Restored By Bionic Eye
Talking about the difference between normal eyesight and the one restored via Bionic Eyes, there’s a huge difference. Obviously, artificial intelligence can’t replace natural body parts and processes, but the surprise is that it does work effectively.
The vision offered by the Bionic Eye is different from natural eyesight. It’s a set of flashing patterns and spots that a person can use to understand his surroundings.
The vision currently provided by the Bionic Eyes is extremely basic and can be utilized for tasks like determining the position of an object as well as detecting people or even locating the doorway. Researchers are hoping that future Bionic Eye devices will offer better resolution, however, there are inherent issues.
How Does The Bionic Eye Function?
Bionic Eyes convert images captured by a camera to a high-contrast image and one portion is chosen to further process.
An external video processor transforms this high-contrast picture into electrical stimulation parameters. These are transmitted to electrodes within the eye.
The person who has a Bionic Eye perceives an image that is blurred composed of flashes of light.
What Do People With Bionic Eyes See?
Different people had different experiences with the Bionic Eye. In most cases, people reported that they saw bright flashes of light instead of a clear image. Thus, can Bionic Eye see color remain unanswered for a few?
Some of the recipients of Bionic Eye have stated that it was similar to:
Looking up at the night sky, there are millions of twinkling lights that appear to be chaos.
Field of View (the area of the viewable world) is tiny – approximately 30 degrees, or a hand’s width at arm’s length. Therefore, the recipients must be able to piece the entire picture together.
Enhancements to the camera’s external and video processing can help in this. For instance, distance-sensing cameras are able to highlight obstacles like trash bins along the sidewalk, while thermal cameras are able to highlight human-like shapes. At present, the most effective results depend on the engagement of patients and rehabilitation.
Who Can Get A Bionic Eye?
The type of Bionic Eyes for patients will depend on the cause for their loss of vision. Retinal bionic implants for the eye are placed inside the eyeball and are appropriate for those who have lost their sight due to certain diseases, like retinal degeneration. It’s inherited and is also known as retinitis pigmentosa, and age-related macular deterioration.
So far, only patients who suffer from degenerative retinal diseases have been able to get Bionic Eyes. Three retinal Bionic Eye models are approved for sale in the commercial market including the Argus II, which was developed in the USA as well as the Alpha-AMS in Germany, and the IRIS V2 in France.
The trial was conducted with three participants, from 2012 and 2014 with a new technology created within Melbourne, Australia. The device could be safer over existing Bionic Eyes because it is implanted in the rear of the eye instead of within the eye.
Before surgery, the Melbourne patients weren’t able to discern the gesture of a hand across their faces. Thanks to the Bionic Eye Implant, it was possible to spot tables, objects and move around objects in their path when walking, which suggests that the implant is able to offer useful information about visuals within the actual world.
They are all retinal implants that have been utilized for patients suffering from the condition known as retinitis pigmentosa.
The retinal implant is made up of micro-electrodes that are located in the eye. A video camera mounted to glasses produces images that are then sent to the micro-electrodes by an implantable stimulus.
Vision quality that is achieved with the retinal implant is heavily dependent on the health of the eyes of the patient as well as the ability to read the Phosphenes. Implanted electrodes are designed to mimic the functions of light-sensitive cells that are missing (photoreceptors). But, there is one condition, they must have living neurons available for electrodes to communicate with.
Another issue is the fact that there are a variety of kinds of retina neurons. However, the electrodes are too vast to be able to focus on specific kinds. Because of this, Bionic Eyes can’t duplicate the perception of color. Actually, artificial vision is very different from normal vision, and requires a long time to adjust to.
Can Image Quality Of A Bionic Eye Be Improved?
There is a myriad of methods to enhance the quality of images. One of them is to increase the number of implanted microelectrodes, and reduce them in size and allow them to target specific neurons, resulting in more distinct “pixels” and greater resolution. There are more advanced nanotechnology materials that could permit electrodes to be smaller enough to have a high-acuity resolution.
Another option is to modify the patterns of electrical stimulation to focus the stimulation to stimulate smaller-sized clusters of neurons. You can also artificially boost the resolution of the brain by creating “virtual electrodes” where electrical current is distributed between the electrodes of two or three. The new methods of stimulation could increase stability, reduce blurriness, and even offer basic control over color.
Researchers are trying to discover and replicate the neural code that the retina utilizes to talk with the brain. If the pattern of firing in photoreceptors could be reproduced the right message could be relayed into the brain. The resultant vision would be much more natural.
By combining these methods with the ability to see, the degree of vision that can be achieved could allow patients to autonomously move around without the assistance of an aid dog or cane.
How successful is the working of the Bionic Eye, it will be seen with time. One thing is for sure Bionic Eyes will grow better with time and we will get a clearer picture of the query can Bionic Eye see color?
No one loves to spend an impaired life, then be it lack of mobility, a sense to think or observe, impaired vision, or anything. With the growing technologies, scientists and health experts are working together to find a cure for every possible illness.
Hopefully, over the growing time, we get to see better results with the artificial vision model: Bionic Eye. As of now, can Bionic Eye see color has some blurred and flashy remarks? But, the future of this will be much better!
Hope for the best. Have a great day!
Frequently Asked Questions related to Can Bionic Eye See Color
Q. Do Bionic Eyes Work For All Patients?
No, Bionic Eye doesn’t work for every patient. It’s specifically targeted to treat retinal degeneration in the visually impaired.
Q. Do Bionic Eyes Really Work?
Yes, as per the reports and test trials, the scientists and surgeons have found great results from the Bionic Eye implants.