Following more than 10 years of development, researchers are preparing for what they say is the world’s first human trials of a bionic eye.
They plan to restore vision by using a brain implant. The processor will be similar to smartphone technology, combined with brain-implanted microelectrodes.
The doctors also hope that the same technology could have the potential to treat paralysis.
The group of researchers are based at the Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and have named their project the “Gennaris bionic vision system”.
In short, the system bypasses damaged optic nerves and enables signals to be transmitted from the retina to the brain’s vision center.
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The team believes they are now ready to conduct what they claim to be the world’s first human clinical trials of a bionic eye. They are still seeking funding in this regard.
“Our design creates a visual pattern from combinations of up to 172 spots of light (phosphenes) which provides information for the individual to navigate indoor and outdoor environments, and recognize the presence of people and objects around them,” explained professor Arthur Lowery of the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering.
The researchers have already inserted the Gennaris into the brains of three sheep. After 2,700 hours of stimulation, they say that there were no adverse health effects.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink company are also working on similar projects, to treat issues such as blindness and paralysis.
Image Credit: Sergey Nivens