Bionic Eye

Sara Johns Cool, Newsletter, Science

Eye Opening Development for the Blind

In the near future, people who were born blind may have a way to see. An image generating bionic contact lens has been developed. This new Israeli device still needs to pass clinical trials. But prototypes have been tested on healthy people. After a few minutes of learning how to associate actual images with the sensations they felt on their fingertips, they could actually “see” using the bionic contact lens.

The mini device consists of a camera that receives visual information from the environment and transmits signals to a bionic contact lens. The lens transfers the signals by way of electrodes to the cornea and from there to sensory brain areas which stimulate the simulation of visual information. The sensation is similar to feeling a person’s face with one’s hands to understand how they look. Head researcher, Professor Zeev Zalevsky, states “We can do the same by touching projected images from the camera onto the cornea of your eye.”

This was developed by the Electrical Engineering and Nanophotonics team at Barr-Ilan University in Israel. Zalevsky is quoted as saying: “The new technology attempts to deal with the problems of existing bionic eye technologies to enable even people who are blind from birth, in whom the brain region that processes visual information is not developed, to see.”