2nd generation bionic eye tests ‘encouraging’

Results of the first clinical trial of Australia’s ‘second generation’ bionic eye have demonstrated ‘substantial improvement’ in four participants’ functional vision, daily activities and quality of life over a period of more than two and a half years.

Detailed outcomes from the trial, led by the Centre for Eye Research Australia, Bionics Institute, University of Melbourne and Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, were published in the journal Ophthalmology Science.

The findings add to interim results that the bionic eye developed by Bionic Vision Technologies provided improvements for four patients with blindness caused by the genetic eye condition retinitis pigmentosa.

The bionic eye comprises a surgically implanted electrode array, designed by the Bionics Institute and the Centre for Eye Research Australia, which receives signals from a video camera mounted on glasses, thus stimulating the patient’s retina.

The Head of Research at the Bionics Institute Professor James Fallon said: “The camera converts images into electrical pulses delivered by the electrode array that activate retinal cells and create flashes of light called phosphenes to help patients detect edges, shapes and movement.”

The new study tracked the patients from the time they received the implant surgery in 2018 to 2021.

Its findings demonstrate the device is stable and durable over the longer term – staying in place behind the retina without complication and still having 97 per cent of electrodes functioning 2.7 years after first implant.

Principal Investigator and vitreo-retinal surgeon Associate Professor Penny Allen said patients showed significant improvement in their navigation, mobility and ability to detect objects.

Associate Professor Penny Allen said: “The bionic eye enabled blind patients to locate doorways, avoid obstacles and find items on table-tops.

“They reported greater confidence in navigation, were more likely to explore new environments and had reduced need for assistance when travelling to the local shops.”

Bionic Vision Technologies is continuing to refine the vision processing capabilities, usability, as well as the wearables of the bionic eye system.

Picture: Bionics Institute

Share this Story

Stay Informed

Go to Top