Bionic vision researchers intend to test a functional bionic eye on patients next year.
“Our primary aim is to complete the first prototypes of the bionic eye so they can be tested in human recipients in 2013,” said Gregg Suaning, a professor from the University of New South Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, in a statement.
Suaning is also the leader of Bionic Vision Australia’s wide-view device, the first of two prototypes designed to restore vision in people with degenerative retinal conditions.
It consists of 98 electrodes that stimulate nerve cells in the retina, which is a tissue lining the back of the eye that converts light into electrical impulses necessary for sight, and allow users to better differentiate between light and dark.
With the bionic eye, images taken by a camera are processed in an external unit, such as a smartphone, then relayed to the implant’s chip. This stimulates the retina by sending electric signals along the optic nerve into the brain where they are decoded as vision.