Scientists from the University of Sydney together with their colleagues from the University of New Wales (UNSW) have developed the Phoenix99 Bionic Eye, which may provide a rudimentary form of vision to certain categories of blind people in the near future. This includes, in particular, patients with retinitis pigmentosa, and those living with severe vision impairment. The three-month study has shown promising results, according to a post by the University of Sydney.
The Phoenix99 consists of a small video camera attached to a pair of glasses and captures the visual scene in front of the user. The video information is converted into a wireless signal, which is transmitted from the camera to the communication module under the skin behind the patient’s ear.
In the module, the signal is decoded into a sequence of electrical impulses transmitted to the communication module, which, in turn, is implanted into the affected retina. This device is able to bypass the malfunctioning cells that have lost their ability to respond to light.
Instead, the implant stimulates the still functioning retinal ganglion cells, which are responsible for receiving information from other visual receptors and transmitting it to the brain.
Three months of preliminary testing of Phoenix99 on sheep has yielded encouraging results. Ethical approval for human clinical trials is pending.
Source: University of Sydney