A group of researchers from Hong Kong reveal their working on bionic eyes that could return vision to the blind.
There are plenty of ways to improve poor eyesight, the advancement of science and technology still hasn't come up with an effective way to offer eyesight to the blind. Well, up until now that is. If the latest study on Nature journal is anything to go by, scientists say they've come up with a bionic human-compatible eyeball which possesses nearly 50 times more "sensing" nanowires than there are optic cells in the retina. Researchers have even claimed that once the product is officially available for the public it could help us see farther and finer details than a naked eye could and it also holds the potential to restore eyesight. Besides, this the bionic eyes could even go a step further from normal sight, which could include seeing in the dark.
According to Popular Mechanics, scientists have explained the challenges of biomimetic vision, or life-imitating vision, in simpler terms. “Extremely wide field of view, high resolution and sensitivity with low aberration” are essential of any imitation eye, they explain, but “the spherical shape and the retina of the biological eye pose an enormous fabrication challenge for biomimetic devices.” The new futuristic solution comes in the way of an abundantly packed series of nanowires which receive light, measure its spectral frequency, and send information through other sets of wires that mimic the visual cortex. That, however, isn't the real breakthrough for this group of researchers who believe it is actually the artificial retina and how it is assembled is what's far more impressive. The retina is made with the help of millions of nanowires which are grown inside nano-sized pores in a spherical aluminum shell.
If you need a little bit of happy news, here's some.— Tara ~I can't breathe.~ (@catmonkey22) June 1, 2020
Bionic Eye, As Sensitive as The Human Retina, May Give Sight to Millions https://t.co/kvQAvXZOEH
The electrochemical eye was designed by researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. "The device design has a high degree of structural similarity to a human eye with the potential to achieve high imaging resolution when individual nanowires are electrically addressed," one of the researchers explains. The nanowires are made of perovskite, a crystalline mineral used in solar cells for its photoreceptive attributes. If the invention comes to fruition as expected within the next five years, it could restore the eyesight for over 285 million blind people across the world. Professor Zhiyong Fan, one of the authors of the study, is hopeful that their study will be able to come up with conclusive results soon."In the future, we can use this for better vision prostheses and humanoid robotics. We hope to further improve our device in terms of bio-compatibility, stability, and performance,” said Professor Fan. “It has a potential to elevate our visual capability to a much higher level.”
This isn't the only such study to build a bionic eye either. According to ScienceAlert, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is also involved in a similar project of their own who told Scientific American that a lot of work is still to be down before we could see tangible results. "I think in about 10 years, we should see some very tangible practical applications of these bionic eyes," said Hongrui Jiang, an electrical engineer at the university. Jiang also shed some doubt on the researchers’ current method of creating individual ultrasmall pixels is impractical. “For a few hundred nanowires, okay, fine, but how about millions?”
So the bionic eye in the article is a proof-of-concept. Realistically, this will not be available for consumers for 5-10 years, probably a decade. Still a good cause for hope.— Jake Anderson (@OverTheMoonSF) June 1, 2020
Whatever the debate around the bionic eye may be, we have now begun to read that giving vision to the blind is now a real possibility. Provided technology grows exponentially like it is at the moment, we may very well get to see a real bionic eye in real-time use by the end of the 2020s.
Bionic eye will become reality in five years, Hong Kong researchers sayhttps://t.co/dEQ0oF2XLd— Sputnik (@SputnikInt) May 24, 2020
A team of scientists from the United States and Hong Kong have built a “bionic eye’ that mimics a human eye in shape and function.— What I Learned Today! (@WhatILearnedTDY) May 29, 2020
The eye, currently in its prototype stage, could soon be used as a prosthetic to restore vision in blind people. pic.twitter.com/fgaYqut5TC