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Bionic eye makers to begin human trial in 2016

07 May 2015

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Human trials for the bionic eye, a project led by Monash University, are set to begin next year, according to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald

Jeffrey Rosenfeld, director of the Monash Institute of Medical Engineering, summarised the progress of the project at the American Association for Neurology Surgeon's annual scientific meeting in Washington DC on Monday.

The human trial will involve up to five patients who have lost their sight due to different reasons. This is possible because the device, which was developed by a multi-disciplinary team at Monash Vision Group (MVG), bypasses the normal visual pathway, not like other bionic eye developments.

The bionic eye's components include a digital camera mounted on glasses, which captures images before sending them to a vision-processing tool as big as a mobile phone. The image, after processing, is transferred to an antenna located at the back of a glasses frame, which will then wirelessly transmit it to the brain.

Bionic eye

Small ceramic tiles implanted during surgery will receive the image. Each of these tiles contains 43 microelectrodes and measure 9mm x 9mm. The more electrodes there are, the more detailed the image will be.

Arthur Lowery, MVG director, said a maximum of 11 tiles could be implanted, providing a total of 473 electrodes. In comparison, a person with normal vision uses more than a million electrodes.

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