I can see the future…and it’s in Melbourne

First published on PCMag.com – September 26th, 2014

Photo by Daniil Avilov  on Unsplash



rom the team that brought you The Bionic Ear comes The Bionic Eye – now in prototype in a Melbourne laboratory near you.

Although not a new concept for the treatment of those living below the legally blind threshold (the most common conditions being macular degeneration or the genetic retinitis pigmentosa), the Australian team is bringing a new approach to a rapidly evolving technology.

The Bionic Eye or visual prosthesis has been in development for a while now, with research and commercial institutions from all over the world developing a number of methods for tackling the challenge.

The approach making the most traction is retinal prosthesis, that is, stimulation of the existing ‘healthy’ cells in the retina. There are two types of prosthetics currently jostling for attention in the market.

Epiretinal prosthesis is already on the market as the US-produced Argus II (and a German product is closely behind). Basically it sends data captured by a camera (mounted on a pair of glasses) in real time to the user’s implant which is tacked onto the front of the retina.

A Sub-retinal implant is, as the name suggests, inserted behind the retina. It is considered a ‘more straightforward’ technology as control is dependent on the user’s own eye movements and therefore easier to adapt to. A collaboration of Melbourne-based researchers, including those from the now-legendary cochlear ear implant team have been able to bring this tech to human trials through the Bionic Vision Australia project….