In today’s era, millions of people suffer from eye-related complications or optic issues, these problems range from total blindness to low vision problems. Many pieces of research are made to cope with such optic diseases and, one of the marvelous discoveries in history is the invention of the Bionic Eye.
Anatomy and Physiology of Human Eye
To understand how this exciting technology works, first you need to have a look at the brief anatomy and physiology of the eye.
The human eye is a complicated structure, made of a complex network of canals and fascia. It consists of Cornea, a front part that focuses light, then Iris situated behind the cornea having a Pupil in its center that allows the light to enter into the eye. Eyes muscles, called Ciliary Muscles, are attached to the iris and can change the pupil’s size regulating the amount of light that can enter the eyes.
After the entry of light and passing through the cornea and pupil, it finally reaches the lens that aids in its focus. Lens, together with the cornea, focus light on the back of the eye, called the Retina.
The retina consists of numerous photoreceptors. These photoreceptors are of two types: Rods and Cones.
- Rods assist to see in the dark and recognize black, grey, and white.
- Cones allow us to see different color variations and are sensitive to green, red, and blue.
Both Rods and Cones contact with different types of neurons in the retina and translate everything you see into nerve messages which are then forwarded to the brain via optic nerves, the brain process these messages and shows you what you are seeing (food, building, person,etc)!
What is the Bionic Eye?
The bionic eye is a visual prosthesis. In simple words, it is an electrical device that helps to recover the visions to the user. Although this is quite thrilling futuristic technology, it is important to clarify that the bionic eye doesn’t restore full vision i.e, 20/20 vision, and also it does not allow people to see who aren’t able to see before at all.
Specific to Eye conditions
Owing to differences in the diseases and problems associated with Eyes, researchers are trying to develop bionic implants specific to eye complications. For example,
- For hereditary disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa, there is a loss of vision due to damage to photoreceptors, therefore, a specific type of Bionic Eye is required to correct this deformity.
- Other conditions like Glaucoma or Traumatic Eye Injuries can cause permanent destruction of visual pathways and optic nerves,thus, Bionic Implant specific to these issues is in use.
Researchers are, thus, working on designing implants that are specific to optic diseases. Huge progress is made in the development of Retinal Implant,which is eye-based, and the Cortical Implant( brain-based).
Bionic Eye – The Amazing Technology Behind It
Now, you are familiar with the miracles of this century’s greatest invention. After knowing the basics, working, and types of Bionic eye, now have a look at the amazing technology of Bionic Eye.
In most cases, the technology on which Bionic Implants functions required developed visual cortex and intact optic nerves for their proper functioning. In short, you must be able to see in the past for these implants to work efficiently.
Bionic Implants – Retinal Based
When vision loss is due to Retinal Pigmentosa or Age-Related Degeneration, then Retinal based bionic eyes are used. In mentioned conditions, there is vision loss due to the death of photoreceptors but still, patients have intact optic nerve and retinal cells. While patients cannot see but eye’s hardware is still working thus, researchers consider this functional area as a part of bionic technology.
Scientists, in collaboration with ophthalmologists, across the globe are working on programming implants that can be used to heal and minimize all sorts of issues related to the eyes.
How The Bionic Eye Works?
Now, let’s have a look at how this artificial eye works.
- Camera: Attached to pair of glasses, it captures the images and sends the information to the externally worn processing unit.
- Processing: Then this information is processed and transmitted to the implanted device by an external wire.
- Implanted Receiver: This receiver then submits the data to the retinal implant, located at the back of the eye.
- Electrodes: Electrodes then convert these details into electrical signals and stimulates the retinal cells that are connected to the optic nerve.
- Optic nerve: The optic nerve transmits these processed signals, called impulses, into the Vision Processing Centers of the brain.
- Final product: After all these steps and processing, the final product is formed by the brain and interpreted in the form of images.
Advantages Of Bionic Eye
Bionic eye or implants have great potential to shape our lives and change destiny. It can restore vision loss and prove to be a blessing to those who have impaired vision. After the incorporation of these implants, one can become independent to carry out their basic life activities thus, increasing their mobility and self-worth. The bionic eye is essentially helpful to those who suffered from Retinal Pigmentosa and traumatic eye injuries. This technology proves to be a great gift of science for those who suffered hereditary optic complications. In short, this technology requires some more work and researches and, then it can have a huge impact on whole mankind.
Is Bionic Eye Cost-effective?
Though we can’t deny the benefits and the emerging importance of the bionic eye, there is one major drawback. It is expensive and its advantages are not worthy of its cost. There is some restoration of vision and users can perceive images but being expensive, people are not able to facilitate themselves with this technology.
In the US, this technology costs about $15 million and approximately 15 centers offer this technology right now.
In India, the bionic eye costs around INR 50 lakhs making it too expensive for the general population.
So, you have got an idea of this Bionic eye and, its types, working, advantages, technology, costs,and everything. Although this technology has become rare to use due to its extravagant budget, still we can’t deny its usefulness. Respective authorities should consider this issue and take appropriate steps so everyone in need of Bionic eye/Implants can use this amazing opportunity.