Four Blind People Go Home With New Bionic Eyes
Bionic Vision Technologies, a firm based in Australia, has announced that its bionic eye system has been used to restore a “sense of sight” to four completely blind people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa. The findings from the study, which was performed at Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne, were presented at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists Scientific meeting.
Unlike previous studies of the technology that were limited to in-lab use, the four patients were able to use the system in their everyday environments.
Each had an implant placed on the scalp with an electrode stretching to the area behind the retina. A camera within a pair of glasses feeds signals to the implant, that in turns stimulates the remaining cells to produce what looks like light to the patient. The resolution isn’t great, if you’re comparing it to healthy vision, but it’s enough for the people in the study to now begin learning how to use the technology for their benefit during everyday tasks.
“Each of the patients has returned home after surgery and are working with the clinical and research team to learn to use the device and incorporate it into their everyday lives,” in a statement said Assoc Prof Penny Allen, of the Centre for Eye Research Australia and head of the Vitreoretinal Unit at The Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. “We believe the Australian bionic eye being tested has advantages over international competitors, including a superior surgical approach, stability of the device and unique vision processing software that aims to improve the patient’s experience.