With the creation of a tiny microchip implant, the researchers from the University of Sydney are one step closer to developing a bionic eye.
According to a recent report, the ‘Phoenix 99 Bionic Eye’ system involves a microchip being planted on the top of the eye, with a tiny camera mounted on a pair of glasses, delivering images wirelessly to the microchip for processing.
The researchers are hoping that the implant will restore sights to patients with vision impairment and blindness.
They are now moving with plans for human trials.
The system has been designed to stimulate cells in the retina and help the brain interpret them to deliver a sense of vision in the user.
Pixelated images that deliver outlines and edges will be seen by the users of the bionic eye. This will allow them to navigate their surroundings and to aid them in carrying out their activities of daily living.
Hopefully, it will allow people with vision loss to identify if a person, doorway, or window is nearby.
Many millions of people around the world are affected with the degenerative disorders impacting the retina.
The team aims to offer new hope with the introduction of the Phoenix 99 Bionic Eye system.
An application for ethics approval is now being prepared by the team in order for them to conduct a ‘first-in-human’ trial of the bionic eye next year.
If successful, they will work to bring the device to a point where regulatory approvals in the global market can be obtained.
Minister for Trade and Industry Niall Blair visited the Sydney labs to meet researchers and get an update on the project that aims to bring new hope to the many people suffering vision loss.
He said that it was a great example of NSW’s Medtech industry, with the NSW Government recently releasing a strategy to help grow the sector.
It was in the 1970s when the idea of bionics first leapt into the public imagination with the science fiction action television series the Six Million Dollar Man.
The work of the team from the University is helping bring it to reality after developing microchip technology to give sense of vision for those who have lost theirs.
This is a fantastic NSW innovation with potential to change the lives of millions of people who are losing sight from conditions like retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration.
The bionic eye system works by placing a tiny microchip implant on top of the eye and is connected to a set of electrodes that interface with surviving nerve tissue.
A very small camera attached to glasses captures the visual scene in front of the wearer, which is then processed by the computer inside a mobile telephone.
A set of instructions are sent wirelessly to a telemetry device implanted behind the ear.
The implant decodes the wireless signal and sends electrical impulses to initiate events the brain interprets as vision.
All of this happens in real time to provide a sense of vision that aims to improve mobility, give greater ease of social interaction, and more independence to blind people worldwide.