(MacularDegenerations.com) The Australian bionic eye is slated to start clinical trials in 2013, reported Gizmodo recently.
According to the article, Bionic Vision Australia (BVA), a national group of researchers, is behind the bionic eye system that could one day allow people with vision loss issues to regain at least a portion of their sight. The article noted that BVA wants to create technology to fight against blindness-causing eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa.
According to the article, the bionic eye contraption is comprised of numerous parts. It includes a camera inserted inside a glasses frame. The images picked up by the camera are sent to a device such as a smartphone, which basically acts as an external processor. After the processing stage, the system uses high-frequency radio to direct the data to a microchip inserted in the eye. The microchip takes the data and transforms it into electrical impulses. These electrical impulses are ultimately sent to the brain. What this means is that people who have at least some retinal cells and an optical nerve that is working will, with the device, be able to regain some sight.
According to the article, the bionic eye won’t have the same functionality as the biological eye. On the one hand, the wide-view bionic eye, with its 98 electrodes, will enable people using it to see well enough to detect and avoid large objects. On the other hand, the high-acuity bionic eye, with its 1,024 electrodes, will enable people using it to enjoy more detail than the wide-view version. However, it will also offer a reduced field of detection.
Should the clinical trials slated for 2013 prove successful, the team of researchers intends to start working on a bionic eye system that combines the advantages of the wide-view and high-acuity versions.
According to the article, the bionic eye development comes on the heels of the excitement that greeted the release of Google’s new glasses. The augmented reality glasses allow people to record their life, so to speak, in real-time.
That said, the Google glasses won’t be nearly as useful to the seeing impaired as will the bionic eye.