New bionic eye implant to help the blind

New bionic eye implant to help the blind
Photo: dpa
German scientists have developed a bionic eye implant that will soon be tested on blind patients.

The prosthesis is a combination of high-tech glasses and an implant meant for patients with the hereditary disease Retinitis Pigmentosa, Germany’s RWTH Aachen University announced on Monday.

“The implant will make recognition of outlines, black-white differentiation and faint vision possible,” said project head Professor Wilfried Mokwa in a statement.

Retinitis Pigmentosa is characterized by the degeneration of the retina, including symptoms like tunnel vision, loss of colour and contrast recognition and loss of night vision.

The implant transmits an image to a a digital signal processor called a “retina encoder,” which creates the corresponding pattern of stimulation for electrodes placed onto the retina that reproduce the image.

Mokwa said the implant may be tailored for other variations of blindness and other eye diseases in the future.

Aachen scientists, together with three small companies and experts from Duisburg and Gießen have been working on the implant for some nine years. The implant is expected to be available to the public in about five years.