Biohackers have developed eyeball drops to give people night vision

27 Mar 2015

Imagine being able to see in the dark without cumbersome night-vision (NV) goggles. Well, now thanks to a team of biohackers, a course of eyedrops can give you superhuman NV powers.

The biohack team called Science for the Masses from the US have been working on the concept of inner-eye NV technology for some time now, but now marks the first time that their particular technique has been used on a human being for the first time.

Publishing their experiment results online, the team were able to convince one biohacker, Gabriel Licina, to be the test bed for an injectable solution of Chlorin e6 (Ce6), a tetrapyrolle and a chlorophyll analog, which is by no-means a new discovery as it has been used in the treatment of cancer and sight loss for decades.

According to Mic, Ce6 is most commonly found in deep-sea fish and has a number of NV properties due to its high absorption of light in the red spectral region which the team had seen proven relatively successful in animal testing, but now felt that it was time to make the next step to human testing.


Gabriel Licina after receiving the Ce6 eye drops. Image via Gabriel Licina

As part of the procedure, Licina had 50 microlitres of Ce6 inserted into his eyes through eye drops targeting the conjunctival sac which helps move the chemical to his retinas, effectively giving him NV capabilities.

Describing what it’s like to be laid down in a dentist chair and have drops inserted into his eyes with eye clamps in a scene reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange, Licina said, “To me, it was a quick, greenish-black blur across my vision, and then it dissolved into my eyes.”

It was then a case of putting eye protectors on Licina’s eyes to prevent any damage from light while he waited the hour for the Ce6 effects to kick in.

Success or failure?

So did it work? Well, two hours after the procedure had been done, Licina and the team went into a dark room to test was the experiment successful and, lo and behold, he was able to see objects quite clearly at a distance of 10m away in the dark, but gradually increased in range as time went on.

A follow-up test took them to a nearby forest where they effectively played hide-and-seek with Licina being able to see people at a distance of 50m away.

The team’s medical officer, Jeffrey Tibbetts, said this experiment was important to show that major advancements weren’t limited to big pharma, “For us, it comes down to pursuing things that are doable but won’t be pursued by major corporations.

“There are rules to be followed and don’t go crazy, but science isn’t a mystical language that only a few elite people can speak.”

Night vision image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic