After several years of non-human testing, the worlds first bionic eyes are hitting the market in Europe. They provide 576 pixel grayscale vision to blind patients, though it only works if blindness is caused by a faulty retina, as in macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, or other degenerative diseases.
The Bio-Retina, developed by the Nano Retina company, is an intriguing technological advancement that currently costs about $60,000 and can be “installed” in about 30 minutes under local anesthesia. It places a 24×24 electronic sensor on the back of the eye and transmits encoded signals to the optic nerve. These sensors are powered by a harmless near-infrared laser, which is fired through the iris and to the sensor itself.
Will this technology eventually restore high-definition color vision to those suffering from degenerative blindness? It’s hard to say at this point, but recent breakthroughs are exciting to watch unfold. Clinical trials will begin the in United States in 2013.