First Bionic Eye to Undergo Clinical Tests by 2011

Sci. & Tech, April 28, 2009

Sydney (IANS): The first clinical test of a bionic eye is likely within two years and commercialisation within five, according to researchers.

A bionic eye is a form of neural prosthesis (artificial extensions of body) intended to partially restore lost vision or amplify existing vision.

Director of Bionic Vision Australia Anthony Burkitt, also professor at the University of Melbourne (U-M), welcomed the announcement and says a $50 million (Australian) funding boost will place Australia at the forefront of
development in the bionic eye.

It is almost three decades since a team at U-M developed the bionic ear, and Burkitt said a similar multidisciplinary approach – using biomedical engineers, clinical experts and neuroscientists from Vision Australia – will have similar success in the development of a retinal implant, said a release.

Head of the Macular Research Unit at the Centre for Eye Research Australia, Robyn Guymer said the boost in funding will increase chances of delivering a bionic eye with such high resolution that it does more than simply differentiate between shadows and large objects, as current bionic eyes enable.

“We are hopeful that with this funding we could provide a much higher quality of life to people with severe visual loss,” she said.

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