Back in the day, if a person were to lose a limb or one of their senses then they were considered useless and there was no hope for them; but now, technology has brought the world so far forward with prosthetics and hearing aids. We’ve taken another huge step forward in providing sight for the blind through this new bionic eye prototype.
The researchers of Bionic Vision Australia developed this exciting new technology with the help of their very passionate patient, Ms. Dianne Ashworth. Her “pre-bionic eye” consists of a surgical implant made up of 24 electrodes placed behind the retina by the surgical team at the Centre of Eye Research Australia. Last month, once the eye had recovered from the medical procedure, it was switched on; when the implant provided an electronic stimulus to the eye, Ms. Ashworth exclaimed,
I didn’t know what to expect, but all of a sudden, I could see a little flash…it was amazing. Every time there was stimulation there was a different shape that appeared in front of my eye.
This is fantastic progress for the project as they continue on with Ms. Ashworth by trying to understand how the brain is interpreting the shapes she is seeing before they take the next huge step in implanting a full device. The current prototype is made up of the 24 electrodes within the retina connecting to a device at the behind her ear using a small lead wire, then the device behind her ear is connected to an external machine, which provides the electrical stimulus. The next iteration of the implant will be comprised of 98 and then 1024 electrodes that will increase clarity within the image.
This is such a significant step towards a solution for people of considerable vision loss, and who knows where this technology can take us next? There could bionic ears and noses in the mix eventually, and bionic people will be just an ordinary thing in the bright future ahead. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.