Bionic eye firmly in sight
Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) may be just months away from producing a bionic eye.
A brand new facility, which opened this month at the university, means that bionic vision researchers now have an on-campus capability to produce their own medical implants.
“Our primary aim is to complete the first prototypes of the bionic eye
so they can be tested in human recipients in 2013,” says Professor Gregg
Suaning from the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering at UNSW.
Professor Suaning is the leader of the wide-view device development programme at Bionic Vision Australia,
a national consortium of researchers working together to develop a
bionic eye to restore vision in people with degenerative retinal
The tiny implant contains 98 electrodes designed to stimulate surviving nerve cells in the retina – a layer of tissue at the back of the eye that converts light into electrical impulses necessary for sight.
Images captured by a camera are processed by an external unit, such as a smart phone, then relayed to the implant’s chip. This stimulates the retina, sending electrical signals along the optic nerve into the brain where they are decoded as vision.
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