Bionic eye researchers in Australia say they have made a breakthrough in the development of a bionic eye system, which will lead to the first human trials.
The researchers say they have developed a new microchip that represents a significant advance in nerve stimulation technology, and only measures 5 square millimeters. A/Prof Suaning from the research team has said,
“It has 98 precisely-controlled stimulation channels and numerous features that allow for the delivery of electrical stimulation that can restore some sense of vision,â€
How will the bionic eye work?
The system consists of a camera attached to a pair of glasses. The camera captures images and sends them to a processing unit worn on the body. A wireless transmitter sends data and power from this unit to the microchip in the retinal implant. The microchip then decodes the data and drives the electrical stimulation of the retina. These signals are then passed along the optic nerve to the brain where they are interpreted as vision.
It is hoped that this technology development will be able to deliver more independence and navigation ability for the vision impaired. Researchers believe this is an important development on the road to developing the first bionic vision system.
A safe surgical technique has been developed for implantation and people with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) are now being screened, to develop a selection protocol for a first group of participants in testing. The first implant of a full system is now expected by 2013.