Is Steve Austin’s bionic eye becoming a reality? Once the topic folklore and science fiction. The answer is yes to an extent. Advances within the realm of microfabrication, microelectronics, material science, wireless technology, and high-speed computer processing power have allowed for the development of Neuroprosthetic devices.
A bionic eye is an electrical device surgically implanted into a human eye in order to allow for the transduction of light in people who have sustained severe damage to the retina.
Several forms of bionic eye implants are in development, but currently, only one type is available for use in the United States. It is only used for blindness caused by specific diseases. The Argus II, at Tufts Medical Center, the first and only hospital to offer implantation of neuroprosthetic devices, in 2017.
Bionic eyes aren’t meant to replace the physical structure of the eye. Bionic eye implants work inside the existing eye structures and in the brain.
The Argus II consists of a tiny eyeglass-mounted camera and a transmitter that wirelessly sends signals to an electrode array that is implanted onto the damaged retina of a blind person. Whatever the camera “sees” is converted into signals transmitted to retinal implants. Then the electrodes of the chip stimulate the retinal cells sending the incoming information to the optic nerve and is processed by the brain.
In March 2020, Argus 2s received FDA conditional approval. The company expects that the Argus 2s will be adapted to be the external system for the next generation Orion Visual Cortical Prosthesis System currently under development.
In May 2020 Second Sight announced it will continue the development of its Orion visual cortical Prothesis system. A Six subject disability study of the Orion device is underway at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
In 2020 researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center reported they had “fitted” a patient with a wireless retinal implant as part of a clinical trial designed to restore at least partial sight in people with advanced AMD.
On December 1, 2020, an 88-year-old grandmother called Bionic Nana by her Grandchildren, with a form of dry AMD became the first in the UK to receive a bionic eye as part of a phase 3 Europe-wide clinical trial.
On January 15, 2020, an innovative technology solution was announced, that will supply low-power systems for use in bionic eyes, has been jointly developed by academics from the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and Northumbria University in the UK.
While the technology is in its infancy. The new bionic eye implants show promise for treating blindness from certain eye diseases. There is still a long way to go until it is perfected. Right now, the patient’s vision is viewed in black-and-white at 60 dots of resolution. Using artificial intelligence technology bringing color to users of bionic eye technology Is the newest to be used to build on.