With over 40 million blind people across the globe and another 124 million afflicted by poor vision, it’s not a surprise that scientists are focusing to find new methods to help restore sight! One such endeavor is the creation of the World’s First Bionic Eye (also known as the bionic implanted eye).
It’s amazing to see the skyrocketing advancements in technology. From inventing AI judges to provide legal justice, to implanting Neuralink into human brains, and now the evaluation of the World’s first bionic eyes, the world seems a full-on technical habitat. Actually, it’s not the first time we’ve witnessed the creation of artificial eyes. We have had heard about Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System earlier (a similar device that restores a degree of vision).
Talking about World’s First Bionic Eye, it will be implanted directly into the eye of the user. The device itself was designed to restore a portion of vision in patients suffering from extreme vision impairments and blindness. It currently is able to work on patients with retina-related degenerative blindness.
Have a look at the working, features, and future of the World’s First bionic eye below!
What Is Retinal Degeneration?
Genetic diseases, diabetes, and a myriad of other health problems can cause damage to photoreceptors. This is known as “retinal degeneration” and can cause the majority of people to gradually lose their sight.
There’s currently no treatment for the degeneration of the retina, however, there is a possibility that the Phoenix99 Bionic Eye system might be able to assist people to overcome the issue.
What Is Bionic Eye?
The simple answer to this question is bionic eye is the cure to your blindness! Yes, you read that right. A team of scientists from Monash University, Australia, have come up with this mind-blowing concept of restoring the lost vision.
This can be done via the Bionic Eye. it works the same as the retina. The tool is still under trial, but will soon be ready for practical human implantation.
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Components Of World’s First Bionic Eye
The prototype device, currently in research by the University of Sydney and University of New South Wales, comprises three major components. It consists of:
- A video camera attached to a pair of glasses.
- A communicator positioned in the skin just behind the ear and,
- A stimulation device implanted close to the ganglion cells within the eye.
Earlier Tests And Trials Of The Bionic Eye
Bionic eyes have covered a long journey of tests and trials. The earlier trails have been made on sheep.
Researchers have observed positive outcomes in sheep that had no adverse effects when it was implanted safely in their brains. They are now planning to move this to the next stage to conduct its first human clinical trial that is scheduled to take place in Melbourne.
How The Bionic Eye Works?
Recall studying the working of a human eye in school? To give a small recall about the working of an eye, a normal human eye works by catching light signals on the photoreceptors of the retina. In any case, if your photoreceptors are damaged, or the eye lens is not compatible to pass the light signals to the brain cells, it is considered a problem.
To help you maintain a healthy balance between the focal; length of the eye and passing the information to the brain cells, doctors recommend contact lenses or spectacles. But these tools don’t work for people with major eye problems, like retinal degeneration that we discussed above.
For restoration of vision for those people suffering from retinal degeneration, the bionic eye was created. The study by the researchers of Phoenix99 Bionic Eye breaks down how the device operates. Here is how it works:
Bionic eye implants function by taking images converting images captured by a video camera into electrical impulses. The impulses then travel through the wireless retina implant which then sends them through the optic nerve. From the optic nerve the brain process the information to create vision.
The user does not get an ideal image, but basic visual information including shapes, movement light, shapes, and the approximate position of objects. This occurs due to the fact that the amount of electrodes present in the current bionic eyes is around 60 and it will take around one million electrodes to restore normal vision.
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How Much Will It Cost?
Like many other modern techniques, bionic eye implants can be costly. They are expensive. Argus II Retinal Prosthesis Systems, one of three distinct kinds of bionic eyes is estimated to cost around $150,000. There is the possibility that your health insurance will cover the implant for your bionic eye.
Limitations Of Bionic Eye
While it is true that these AI-based technologies like the Argus II system and bionic eye can allow people to detect the movement of light, shapes, and movements. However, it is not able to bring sight back to the degree one might wish.
This is caused by the present implant being only equipped with 60 electrodes. To be able to see you’d require around one million.
However certain Argus II users perform well enough to take large-print books to the library and walk across the streets by themselves. The company also plans to include more electrodes in future models. Hopefully, similar test results come out for bionic eys as well.
The Future Of Bionic Eye
Restoring vision for people who suffer from retinal damage is only the beginning of possible uses for the bionic eye. In the future, this technology might allow those who have healthy eyes to attain superhuman vision.
It’s not a requirement to give up your eyes as it’s not a replacement for the eyes or photoreceptors. The system can simply enhance the human eye by providing additional signals.
The future of Bionic Eye Implants is a fascinating one. A bionic device for the eye known as the Orion is in the process of being developed that is believed to provide “useful artificial sight” for people suffering from various conditions that result in extreme visual impairment, or complete blindness. The device is designed to completely bypass the eye and produce sight via the use of electrodes placed directly in the visual cortex.
Not just human eyes, but human brain will also be working with the help of AI. Have a look at What Is Neuralink And How Will It Imapct Your Memory?
There’s more than one technology that has the potential to improve the capabilities of humans already due to neural implants, exoskeletons, and other bionics technologies, the future humans will be more intelligent, stronger more efficient, and better than the ones who we are today.
Looking forward to the best possible outcomes for the World’s first bionic eye. Hopefully, the darkness will no longer be the obstacle between your eyes and this bright beautiful world!
Featured Image Credits: scienceofsingularity.com