A group of Stanford University researchers have come up with a way for solar technology to potentially cure blindness in the future. They’ve invented goggles that can send information to chips implanted in eye retinas, behaving like solar cells. These implants would provide more options and require less invasive surgery than what’s currently available.
According to electrical engineering professor James Loudin, it took many years and various technologies from different academic departments to develop the specialized goggles and implants. The goggles have a miniature camera embedded into the nosepiece, sending images to a portable computer which generates the video images and transmits them into the eyes via infrared lasers.
The lasers are located in the lenses of the goggles, which reflect images onto tiny photovoltaic chips under the retinas. Biology finally takes over, converting light into an electrical current and sending messages to the brain that allow the patient to see. Well, now we know why it took so long to develop!
Researchers were initially concerned the laser light heat would damage other areas of the eye. They also had to develop a type of technology that would deliver visual information at a video rate. Plus, the use of infrared light was critical because natural light is 1,000 times too weak to power the implant. After all these hurdles, they are finally ready to test this new bionic eye on humans.
So far, the system has only been tested on the retinas of rat eyes in a laboratory. There have been other similar technologies developed in other parts of the world, but they required extensive surgery due to complex wiring and other issues. The unique aspect of this bionic eye is that it wouldn’t require dangerous eye surgery.
There’s still no direct cure for blindness, but this could be one step closer to it.
Would you be willing to try out a device like this if your sight was severely impaired?