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JUL/AUG 2013  

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Bionic Vision Australia is developing a bionic eye

A consortium called BionicVision Australia is developing 2 in-retina devices, one for wide view and the second for older people, suffering from macular degeneration. The wide-view device incorporates 98 electrodes and the second (high-acuity) device will incorporate 1,024 electrodes.


Research is being conducted on both prototypes, the wide-view device and the high-acuity device, simultaneously, with a focus on the wide-view device.

Patient tests for the wide-view device are expected by 2013.

Watch the video below to see how the wide-view retinal implant would work.

 



 

 

The device would be implanted in the suprachoroidal space to protect the retina from mechanical damage during insertion and helps to maintain it in position.

With the implant, the organization aims to provide patients the ability to move around large objects such as buildings, cars and park benches and to lead more independent lives, according to the company’s Web site.

The wide-view device may be most suitable for patients with retinitis pigmentosa.

bionic eye

The wide-view retinal implant has 98 electrodes to stimulate the retina and enable patients to perceive vision. Click here for larger image. Credit: Bionic Vision Australia.

The high-acuity device aims to provide functional central vision to the user, to assist with tasks such as face-recognition and reading large print, the company reports.

Diamond materials are used to form the electrode array and to seal the implant. Diamond is very biocompatible because it is an inert material, which means that surrounding tissues will not be irritated by the implant. Therefore, the implant will be safe to stay in the body for the lifetime of the patient, according to the organization.

The first set of patient tests is expected in 2014 and will use a completely wired device. The next stage of testing will offer a device with less wiring, working towards a totally wireless system in the final stage, where both data and power will be transferred wirelessly to the implant.

The device would help patients recognize faces and read large print somewhere between the second and third line of a Snellen chart. The first patients for the high-acuity device will be people with retinitis pigmentosa, and the next stage would target age-related macular degeneration patients.