Scientists from the University of Sydney have conducted a very promising study of the bionic eye.
It showed high safety and stability during long-term implantation during a three-month trial.
The bionic eye called “Phoenix” is an implantable system that is designed to restore vision in people who have practically lost this skill due to degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa. The device consists of two main components that need to be implanted: a stimulator attached to the eye and a communication module placed under the skin behind the ear. Researchers from Australia, during experiments with sheep, observed how a living organism reacts to eye implantation, how healing occurs, and how safe this device is.
Now researchers are absolutely sure that the device can be used on humans. Phoenix stimulates the retina— a thin layer of neurons lining the back of the eye. In healthy eyes, cells in one of the layers turn incoming light into electrical messages sent to the brain. In some diseases of the retina, the cells responsible for this transformation regenerate, which leads to a deterioration of vision.
The bionic eye bypasses these faulty cells, directly stimulating the remaining ones. This makes the brain believe in detecting light. The device has a weak effect on the neurons necessary for this deception. During the tests, there were no unexpected reactions from the tissues around the device, therefore, it can safely remain at the implantation site for many years.