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