Microchip success for bionic eye

April 3, 2012, Monash University
Microchip for the bionic eye

(Medical Xpress) -- Research to restore sight to the clinically blind has reached a critical stage, with testing underway of the prototype microchips that will power the bionic eye.

Electrical engineers from the Monash Vision Group (MVG) have begun trailling the , with early laboratory tests proving positive, and pre-clinical assessment due to begin shortly.

The Director of MVG, Professor Arthur Lowery said the positive result meant the project was on track to deliver a direct-to-brain bionic ready for patient tests in 2014.

The device will consist of a mounted into a pair of glasses, which acts as the retina; a pocket processor, which takes the electronic information from the camera and converts it into signals enabling the brain to build up a visual construct; and cortical implants of several tiles which will be the portal for the stimulation of the .

“The aim for this vision prosthetic is to be at least equivalent to a seeing-eye dog or a white cane. While it would initially complement existing aids such as these, we believe the device eventually will replace them, and as the technology is further refined, become sufficiently sensitive to discriminate large print,” Professor Lowery said.

“The microchips we are testing will be implanted directly on the surface of a patient’s visual cortex, located at the back of the brain. It’s estimated that each patient will receive a grid of up to 14 eight-by-eight millimetre tiles,” Professor Lowery said.

Each tile comprises a four-by-four millimeter microchip with some 500,000 transistors and 45 hair-thin electrodes. When fully operational, these tiles will receive low-resolution, black-and-white images from an external digital processing unit connected to a high-resolution camera.

Dr. Jean-Michel Redouté, MVG’s Program Leader, Implantable Electronics, said one of the project’s main challenges was harnessing and powering this array of electrically-charged devices in the brain.

“Achieving acceptable vision requires far more electrode capacity than the amount required to power a bionic ear. While the bionic ear requires approximately 15 electrodes, we’ll need at least 600 to produce useful vision for patients,” Dr. Redouté said.

Over 50,000 people in Australia are considered clinically blind. The number exceeds 160 million globally .

The MVG was established in April 2010, with an $8 million grant from the Australian Research Council. The MVG accommodates more than 20 leaders in physiology, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, electrical and electronic engineering, mechanical and materials engineering, mathematics and immunology.

Explore further: Electrical stimulation to help the blind see

Related Stories

Electrical stimulation to help the blind see

October 12, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- In people who have lost vision due to an injury or disease, the brain is still capable of "seeing." Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Cognitive and Brain Science Department ...

‘Eyeborg’ man films vision of future (w/ video)

August 30, 2011
(PhysOrg.com) -- A Canadian filmmaker whose childhood hero was Lee Majors as a bionic man is making the most out of what he has done to compensate for having lost one eye by becoming Eyeborg Man. Rob Spence, who lost an eye ...

Recommended for you

In effort to treat rare blinding disease, researchers turn stem cells into blood vessels

February 13, 2018
People who inherit a mutated version of the ATF6 gene are born with a malformed or missing fovea, the eye region responsible for sharp, detailed vision. From birth, their vision is severely limited, and there is no cure. ...

Antioxidant therapy prevents devastating vision loss when added to standard-of-care on rare birth defect

February 5, 2018
A new study led by vision researchers at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo and VA Western New York Healthcare System has demonstrated that the addition of widely available ...

Genetic basis for glaucoma uncovered

January 30, 2018
In two recent publications, Northwestern Medicine scientists and international collaborators discovered mutations that cause improper drainage and a buildup of ocular pressure leading to one form of congenital glaucoma, and ...

Study advances gene therapy for glaucoma

January 16, 2018
While testing genes to treat glaucoma by reducing pressure inside the eye, University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists stumbled onto a problem: They had trouble getting efficient gene delivery to the cells that act like drains ...

New study offers added hope for patients awaiting corneal transplants

January 9, 2018
New national research led by Jonathan Lass of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has found that corneal donor tissue can be safely stored for 11 days before transplantation surgery to correct eye problems ...

Diabetic blindness caused and reversed "trapped" immune cells in rodent retinas

January 3, 2018
Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a cell signaling pathway in mice that triggers vision loss in patients with diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion – diseases characterized by the closure of blood vessels ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.