31 August 2012

The World’s First Bionic Eye Helps Woman Regain Her Sight

A blind Australian woman has regained her sight after being implanted with an early prototype of the world’s first bionic eye.

Dianne Ashworth is the first patient to be fitted with the device, which was created by researchers in the Bionics Institute in East Melbourne.

It was switched on after her eye had recovered from the initial surgery of implanting the device.

In the bionic eye, electrodes are inserted into the retina of a vision-impaired patient, which sends electrical impulses to the nerve cells in the eye—stimulating a natural occurrence in a person with normal vision.

“All of a sudden I could see a little flash…it was amazing,” Ashworth was quoted saying in The Age, “Every time there was stimulation, there was a different shape that appeared in front of my eye.”

Although the device is only able to restore restores mild vision, Ashworth is now able to pick up major contrasts and edges such as light and dark objects.

The Age reports that researchers are now collecting feedback from Ashworth, which will allow them to develop a vision processor that can build images using flashes of light.

According to Bionics Institute director Rob Shepherd, he said that the next step was to test various levels of electrical stimulation.

“We are working with Ms Ashworth to determine exactly what she sees each time the retina is stimulated using a purpose-built laboratory at the Bionics Institute,” Professor Shepherd was reported saying.

“The team is looking for consistency of shapes, brightness, size and location of flashes to determine how the brain interprets this information.”

“Having this unique information will allow us to maximize our technology as it evolves through 2013 and 2014.”

Will the blind be able to regain their vision in the future? We certainly hope so.

Click to watch the video below:

[via The Age]