Bionic eye

This Economist article is about a technology being developed which can restore some sight to people who are blind. In a certain type of blindness, the nerve that takes information from the eye to the brain is OK, it’s just the cells on the retina which collect light that are problematic.

The researchers implanted a chip with basically a digital camera in it and connected the chip to the patient’s optical nerve. There are only 1240 sensors on the chip compared to the 120 million in a healthy eye, but results were still exciting:

“Patients reported being able to distinguish between dark walls and a light window, and a dark table and white plates. The image was coarse compared with normal vision because of the small number of pixels, and the patients did not see fully in colour, although they reported being able to distinguish white, grey and yellow tones. Nevertheless, enough sight was restored to make a difference to each of the volunteers’ lives.”