Bionic eyes could eventually ‘cure’ blindness


Brain implants and special glasses could make it possible for the blind to see.
Scientists have been developing bionic eyes that work independently of a person’s own ocular system.

Our eyes contribute so much to our daily lives that those of us who lose the ability to see often struggle to carry out many of the day-to-day tasks that everyone else tends to take for granted.

Curing blindness outright isn’t possible even with today’s advances in science and medicine, but there is still hope thanks to researchers such as those at Monash University in Australia who have been working on building special bionic eyes capable of communicating directly with the brain.

The system works by implanting 11 small tiles in to the parts of the brain responsible for receiving and processing signals relating to visual stimuli. Each tile contains 43 elctrodes which stimulate the brain with electrical signals and build up a picture consisting of around 500 pixels.

This might not sound like much compared to the 1 to 2 million pixels that healthy eyes can see, but to someone who is totally blind this valuable image is far better than nothing at all.

To make the whole thing work the patient must also wear special glasses with a digital camera, movement sensor and transmitter which sends visual information to the implants in the brain.

While right now the main goal of this technology is to enable blind people to see, in the future such a system might also be used to give a healthy-sighted person augmented vision such as the ability to zoom in over long distances or to even see in the dark.