According to the BBC, Researchers at the University of Southern California have developed a “bionic eye” and will begin doing clinical trials to test the device. A camera is mounted on glasses and sends an image to electrodes implanted in the retina, stimulating the damaged cells in the eye.
What we are trying to do is take real-time images from a camera and convert them into tiny electrical pulses that would jump-start the otherwise blind eye and allow patients to see,” said Professor Mark Humayun, from the University of Southern California.
At the moment, the implants produce only rudimentary vision. According to The Washington Post, six patients have used the implants to “distinguish light, perceive motion, and identify general shapes and objects.”
The trials are expected to take two years, after which the BBC reports that the devices are expected to become available to individuals at a cost of approximately $30,000 USD. The targeted diseases are retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration, which cause the death of retinal cells; according to the Washington Post, the new study will focus on patients over 50 years of age.