In the past 20 years, biotechnology has become the fastest-growing area of scientific research, with new devices going into clinical trials at a breakneck pace. We've been waiting on the prospect of a bionic eye for a while now; being able to surgically give sight to the sightless would be a medical breakthrough, and we're right on the cusp. In a world first, scientists have successfully implanted a prototype bionic eye that has helped a woman see forms.
Bio medical engineers play a vital role in shaping the course of these prosthetics. Now it is the turn of Artificial Vision through Bionic Eyes.
What are bionic eyes?
An artificial eye provokes visual sensations in the brain by directly stimulating different parts of the optic nerve. There are also other experimental implants that can stimulate the ganglia cells on the retina or the visual cortex of the brain itself. There is more focus given to the production of artificial retinas.
Many types of artificial eyes have been designed and research is still going on. There is no standard model in this case. Researchers are working out different types of concepts. Example is:
Implants of a microchip, smaller than the head of a pin and about half the thickness of a sheet of paper were used to remove blindness.
A new bionic eye implant could allow blind people to identify faces, watch TV and even read. Nano Retina's Bio-Retina is one of two recent attempts to help patients with age-related macular degeneration, which affects 1.5 million people. The Bio-Retina implant is smaller because it doesn't have an antenna. Instead, the implant captures images directly in the eye, and a laser powers the implant remotely. Because of Bio-Retina's compact size, an ophthalmologist can insert it through a small incision in the eye in 30 minutes-potentially more appropriate for seniors. The Bio-Retina will generate a 576-pixel grayscale image. And clinical trials could begin as soon as next year. In this it includes
1. DON GLASSES
Ordinary-looking glasses contain a battery, a power-delivering laser apparatus and working lenses (to help with vision problems such as nearsightedness and astigmatism).
2. SHINE LASER POWER
The near-infrared laser beam, gentle enough to shine harmlessly through the eye onto the implant, provides up to three mill watts of power to a photovoltaic cell on the eye implant. The light is invisible, so it won't interfere with vision.
3. CAPTURE IMAGE
Photo-receptors pass light information to an image processor that translates each image pixel into a series of electrical pulses that represent a particular shade of Gray.
4. TRIGGER NEURONS
(Inset) Six hundred needle electrodes (wrapped in bio-compatible silicon and sapphire to prevent the formation of scar tissue) penetrate the retina. Each electrode represents one pixel, sending pulses of electricity to stimulate the eye's neurons, which transmit the image to the brain. As we can say that in Science wonders this play the key role.
Bionic Eyes have made this true. Though there are a number of challenges to be faced before technology reach the common man, the path has been laid. Engineers play a major role in the design stage of Bionic Eyes.