Bionic Eyes. Science or science fiction

“Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better…stronger…faster.”
In the 1970’s television show “The six million dollar man, Major Steve Austin is severely injured and is “rebuilt”. His right arm, both legs and the left eye are replaced by “bionic” implants that enhance his strength, speed and vision far above human norms: he can run at speeds of 60 miles per hour , and his eye has a 20:1 zoom lens and infrared capabilities.

When headlines of a new bionic eye turned up in the media it would have caught the interest of anyone who wears an artificial eye. When you read the small print you will find the bionic eye is being developed for people with certain types of eye disease and is not a replacement for someone who has lost an eye.

The development of bionic vision technology aims to restore the sense of vision to people living with blindness and low vision. Initially, the technology targets patients with retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.

The bionic vision system consists of a camera, attached to a pair of glasses, which transmits high-frequency radio signals to a microchip implanted in the retina. Electrodes on the implanted chip convert these signals into electrical impulses to stimulate cells in the retina that connect to the optic nerve. These impulses are then passed down along the optic nerve to the vision processing centres of the brain, where they are interpreted as an image.

To benefit from this technology, patients need to have a functional visual pathway from the retina to the brain along the optic nerve, as well as some intact retinal cells. While this technology will not be able to help people who have lost an eye it is still a remarkable piece of technology and gives hope to people who suffer with retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.

You can read more about this technology at the Bionic Vision Australia Website

3 Responses to Bionic Eyes. Science or science fiction

  1. Avatar for Johnny E. Harjo
    Johnny E. Harjo November 21, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    Dear Bionic Vision Australia,I turn,In a sense,say to the contrary,I don’t mean I won’t add,or help people to see,but since this article was written,I believe there have been GREATER strides,In science,that If a person lost and eye,NOW,a totally complete bionic eye would,Indeed,be able to replace their former eye-and If a person was per say on a mission of some sort,that eye could be further enhanced to see greater distances. I spoke of the time-line you had written the earlier article,which was 2006,so that’s why I’m sure of the advances since. With that said,may God continue to Bless you,and your endeavours. Sincerely,Johnny Harjo

  2. Avatar for Vishwa
    Vishwa June 6, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    Dear sir this is amazing news that the person again see the world when also he loss his eyes.

    Dear sir my son is suffering from retinoblastoma & now we remove his right eye ( affected eye from retinoblastoma) .

    Sir is there any chance for my son for to see the world again with his right eye.

    please suggest me.

    Regards
    Vishwa Prakash

    • Avatar for Paul Geelen
      Paul Geelen June 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

      Hello Vishwa,
      While there is amazing research being done around the world there is unfortunately nothing available at the moment to help your son to see the world through his right eye. I wrote this article because every parent who visits my clinic asks this same question. “Will my child ever be able to get sight back in the eye again?” My answer to them is that I remain hopeful that one day there will be a breakthrough however to date this procedure has been unsuccessful.
      There are many obstacles to overcome to be able to perform a viable eye transplant. There are some interesting developments in stem cell research that show early promise however due to the complexity of the eye we do need to understand that this may never be achieved.
      I was reluctant to publish this article as I did not want to create false hope. The purpose of the article was to let people know that there is research being done in this area. If I hear of any developments I will publish them on the front page of this site.
      I am sorry if this article has given you unrealistic expectations.
      In my Dubai clinic I would tell my patients,”An eye transplant will be successful one day Insha’Allah.”
      Roughly translated “An eye transplant will be successful one day if it is the will of god.”
      I hope this helps to clarify the article.
      With kind regards. Paul

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