Bionic eyes, coming to a head near you soon!

27 Feb 2015

Researchers are working on innovative ways to cure blindness, with bionic eyes and chips in the brain their main focus.

Dr Patrick Degenaar and his team at Newcastle University are developing the fake eye to help sufferers of retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic condition that impairs sufferers’ vision, sometimes causing blindness.

By using the bionic eye, gene therapy and wearing an innovative set of glasses to aid the process, it is hoped that sight can be restored in what would be an incredible scientific accomplishment.

“The key difference with our approach is that we stimulate optically rather than electrically,” explains Degenaar.

The eye has optics to receive light, which is then picked up by light sensing cells called photo-receptors. Processing then takes place within the eye before communications cells send the signals on to the brain.

Option one, or option two?

Researchers at the university are also working on a completely different approach to sight restoration, developing a microchip implant to be connected to a human brain which will, they say, restore vision to those completely blind or even give sight to people who have never experienced it before.

When asked by the BBC how confident he was that this approach could succeed in its aim, researcher Nabeel Fattah said, “… hopefully 100pc.” Grand.

It’s not the first scientific prediction announced this week relating to the human body, either.

Yesterday we reported on a neurosurgeon’s claims that the world’s first ever human head transplant could be just 24 months away.

According to New Scientist, the concept was first proposed by Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy in 2013 who says the two major complications with such a procedure – fusing a head onto another spine and stopping the body from rejecting its new host – are issues that can be overcome by 2017.

Technician working on a futuristic eye, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic