While our Australian audience is in mourning, here’s some cheerful news that might rekindle their civic pride:
Scientists from the Bionic Eye Foundation at Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital have launched human clinical trials of the device, which employs the same technology now routinely used in cochlear implants to restore hearing.
Professor Minas Coroneo said the trials involved placing small electrodes on the surface of the eye then using an electric current to stimulate the retina, the thin layer of cells in the back of the eye that respond to light.
Coroneo said a video camera attached to a pair of glasses was used to pick up images and transfer them to the electrodes via a computer.
The electrodes then stimulate the retina to send messages down the optic nerve to the visual area of the brain.
While it does not offer full sight, Coroneo said it could one day provide blind people with enough “functional vision” to negotiate their way across a room without bumping into objects.
“The patient will see a pattern of flashes that will outline objects,” he told AFP. “The aim is getting seeing-eye dogs back to being just pets.”
The stimulation achieved so far is extremely limited, but researcher Vivek Chowdhury said it was enough to spark a tearful response from his first successful patient when she saw a single spot of light after years of darkness.
Being fans of Lee Majors and all, Medgadget.com is closely following all bionic eye developments.
Flashbacks: Learning Retinal Implant System, Optoelectronic Retinal Prosthesis, Good news from MiViP, Second Sight Implant: Positive Results Reported in the Study, Optobionics’ Artificial Silicon Retina ™ microchip
More from the Prince of Wales Hospital Bionic Eye Foundation (pdf)