Science! Prosthetic Eyes!

If there was an injury that would encourage me to get cybernetics, it would be the loss of eyesight.  If I lost a hand or other extremity I would likely consider a prosthetic, but even the most advanced ones are pretty non-invasive.  Replacing an eye would be very much more so, since in order for it to work it would need to connect directly to the optic system, likely at the optic nerve (or go straight into the brain, even scarier).

Today I read that scientists have reverse engineered animal brains to create bionic prosthetic eyes.

The image is a little grainy yet, but they have been able to restore at least partial vision to mice with destroyed retinas.

how effective Nirenberg and Pandarinath’s prosthetic eye is

how effective Nirenberg and Pandarinath’s prosthetic eye is

This is nowhere near good enough that I would volunteer to give up my sight for it, but as someone who used to hang out on BBSes in the late 80s and early 90s, I’ve seen worse.

Come to that, I’ve had digital cameras that produced worse images.

If I lost the use of one or both eyes but could get access to this technology and recover this much vision I would jump on it, and wait eagerly for improvements.

The post says researchers are confident that human trials could begin in a year or two.  This is amazing… and once it becomes available, improvement comes next, and once it becomes more common improvement comes much faster.  That digital camera I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago?  Nowhere near the quality I get from my phone… and this technology could get as much better, faster, especially if you consider that the human eye offers a lot more room to work with than a mouse’s eye.

This, a virus that destroys breast cancer in a week, spray-on skin for burn victims that causes what could be a crippling wound to be largely healed over a weekend… I don’t need flying cars to be living in the future.


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3 Comments to "Science! Prosthetic Eyes!"

  1. August 16, 2012 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I have sitting on my desk in work a camera that can detect individual photons, and capture at speeds up to millions of frames per second, pushing a billion.

    It’s only 5.5 megapixels though, so “phone photographers” would sneer at it. ;o)

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