The bionic eye and the future of sight loss

What is visual prosthesis, also known as the bionic eye, and what does it mean for the future of the visually impaired?

March 2, 2023

One of the greatest traits of humanity is our drive to continuously trying to solve problems. The bionic eye is of no surprise, considering the aforementioned trait of humans, emerging as a solution to sight loss. Technology has been evolving in an admirable pace and visual prosthesis is just one of the marvels this evolution has brought for us. Though, one might wonder, what exactly is a bionic eye and what does it say about the future of visual impairment?

Bionic eyes are not the same as an ocular prosthesis, also known as artificial or glass eye. Ocular prosthesis is used to replace the natural eye, in the case the latter had to be removed for medical purposes, and does not bring vision back. In contrast, the bionic eye aims to restore vision for the visually impaired. Could this be considered the solution for blind and low vision individuals?

At this moment, the available visual prosthesis is called Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System and it is suitable for patients of retinitis pigmentosa. This solution to vision loss caused by the aforementioned condition is still under development, which is why it restores vision only to a certain level. According to Second Sight, their bionic eye restores vision in the form of light perception and shape or movement recognition. Following is a short informative video about the prosthetic device.

Although the concept of the bionic eye sounds ground-breaking, it is essential to understand its complexity. Sight loss has numerous and very diverse causes. One type of visual prosthesis could not restore sight loss caused by all conditions, since each bionic eye solution needs to be tailored to each medical condition.

This illustrates the complexity of such projects, considering the medical and technological expertise necessary for their development. However, the future seems only bright, considering the ongoing efforts put into research in this field. Mastering such technologies, could enable researchers to even improve normal vision than only resolving blindness or low vision problems. Could one assume that the technology of bionic eyes will evolve to the extent that they replace natural vision? Perhaps, but regardless of what the future of visual prosthesis is, we’ll be keeping an eye on it.