Major advance for bionic eye

Major advance for bionic eye
Microchip for bionic eye

( -- University of New South Wales researchers have unveiled the microchip which is expected to power Australiaэs first bionic eye.

Associate Professor Gregg Suaning, of the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering and a project leader in the national consortium, Bionic Vision Australia (BVA), said the new, 98-channel microchip, now undergoing preliminary lab testing, was a major step towards the goal of a functional bionic eye.

“This is a remarkable new microchip that has brought an Australian retinal implant much closer to reality,” he said.

“At only five square millimetres, the device is tiny but represents a significant advance in nerve stimulation technology. The design team incorporated never-before attempted features with this design and they absolutely nailed every aspect. The result is mind boggling.”

BVA Director, Professor Anthony Burkitt, said the production of the chip, a year after BVA received funding for the bionic eye project, represented “a major advance in technology”.

“This microchip is at the heart of the retinal implant, which stimulates the retinal cells to elicit vision. It is an important component in the development of our first bionic vision system that may provide real, functional benefits for patients and make our technology competitive internationally,” he said.

The is performing well in preliminary lab testing. It will be at the core of the Wide-View neurostimulator device being developed by BVA, with the first full implant of the system in a patient planned for 2013.

The bionic eye technology being developed by UNSW and its partners in BVA – the Bionic Ear Institute, Centre for Eye Research Australia, NICTA and University of Melbourne – aims to help people who have experienced vision loss due to retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). RP affects 1.5 million people around the world, while AMD is responsible for almost half of all legal blindness in Australia. For more information on RP, AMD and the bionic eye project visit the BVA website.

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Australia reveals prototype 'bionic' eye

Citation: Major advance for bionic eye (2011, April 1) retrieved 18 July 2019 from
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Apr 01, 2011
Amazing. I would've never thought these sorts of things would become manifest in my lifetime. Now anyone up for a pool on how long it takes to make the implant better than the original? I'll put my money on 40 years, barring any sort of extreme circumstance.

Apr 01, 2011
Skeptic Heretic,

I would say within 10 years. This is essentually mores law, so sooner than you would expect

Apr 01, 2011
well they will increase the resolution of these nerve stimulation chips greatly in the next decade or two. Only time will tell when it has "surpassed" the natural eye, but it is a subjective question... some could argue the moment they add night vision to them that they are "better" in some ways, even at lower resolution.

Apr 01, 2011
Can we put an American coin in the picture for scale? I was thinking "that chip is much smaller than that coin, but how big is that coin"? Ha, I'm so American-centric.

Apr 02, 2011
Can we put an American coin in the picture for scale? I was thinking "that chip is much smaller than that coin, but how big is that coin"?

The coin is 19.41 mm in diameter, or in archaic units, 0.764 inches :)

I would have liked to have known what resolutions the implant is capable of generating, ie, how it compares with normal vision.

There have been previous chip implants which I think worked on a different principle as they acted like a CCD camera replacing the retina. These devices have very crude resolutions - no better than sensing differences in light and dark, but people can still benefit from them.

These chips don't appear to replace the retina, but stimulate it to make it work better, so the results could be a lot better. But if so, then this tech will never produce results better than the original eye as it's still utilizing the retina for sensing.

Apr 04, 2011
These types of devices are worthless

Tell that to the millions of people this technology may help to see again. Moron.

Apr 08, 2011
You know what - you're right. Your imaginary solutions are much more valuable than the actual medical advances these people are making.

Hmm.. I'm somewhat curious, though.. Instead of bleating and ranting on some obscure corner of the net that the trained experts are 'doing it all wrong'... Why aren't you out there curing all those millions of sightless people? Especially since it is all so obvious and simple. You'd be rich as the stars - probably a Nobel in it for you, too...

Apr 11, 2011

Actually I do have a design and have found designs similar to mine on the web being worked on.

Well, I look forward to reading of your breakthroughs on this or some some other site... At which point, I will applaud you, in the same way as I applaud the researchers in this article :)

Apr 11, 2011
PaulieMac: Maybe if you actually KNEW anyone that is suffering from vision loss you would understand my point and you wouldn't be such a public dum b as s. Your defense of the pride of scientists over actually helping people is pathetic.

You think there is a single adult on this planet who does *not* know someone suffering from vision impairment or loss?

'Defence of the pride of scientists over helping people'? This team has a functioning device in testing; hopefuly going it will help someone see again within 2 or 3 years. So, yes, I say 'good job' to them; I say 'fantastic'. It's exciting news, and I earnestly hope it goes on to help millions more people regain their sight.

You have a problem with that? You prefer all those millions get left in the dark until the perfect fix is achieved? For how long? An extra 1 year? 5? 10?

That'll sure show all those darned 'scientific' types ;-)

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