Bionic eye that sees better than we do

Making the blind see has always been seen as some sort of miracle— some sort of thing that may be seen as beyond reality. It is one of the most difficult things for modern medicine to achieve— or maybe I should say was one of the most difficult things. In this day and age, we are able to restore vision— though only in certain situations. A bionic eye is on the market that can restore limited vision in certain situations.

First off: How does vision work? Why was it so difficult to figure out vision when we had things like cameras and such? Light comes into the eye through a curved lens and the light hits the retina. This is what people had difficulty replicating, curved light before it hits the retina. That was the difficulty people had difficulty replicating. However, the eye is becoming possible to recreate. With cutting-edge AI, a curved lens is no longer needed, a flat lens is able to provide vision at just the same quality as our very own eyes.

Another path that could be taken is the hemisphere route. Zhiyong Fan, an electronic and computer engineer at Hong Kong’s University of Science and Technology and the rest of their research team did. They made a hemisphere of foil, and with electrochemical treatment were able to transform the foil into aluminum oxide. Aluminum oxide was an insulator that left it studded with nanoscale pores across it. These holes became channels for perovskite nanowires, which are there acting as the retina of the robotic eye. Perovskite is used in manufacturing solar cells. Once these nanowires grew, the researchers capped the eye with an artificial lens. After putting together the lens, hemisphere, and retina, they filled it with their faux vitreous humor— an ionic liquid. This liquid was vital, because it allowed the nanowires to detect light and transmit its signals to external, image-processing electronics.

The eye is not limited by biological parameters of the human lens. It is able to respond to wavelengths up to 800 nm, which is a whole 60 nm above natural response to light. Any color that has any sort of wavelength above this, we see as black. If we were able to see at 800 nm, we would practically be seeing in a near-infrared band. We would process time for light patterns in 19 ms, which is half of the time that the human eye is able to. The artificial eye is able to see much better than we can in many different areas of vision. It even is completely free of a blind spot.

It is nowhere near functional yet. To integrate a bionic eye directly into the brain is difficult. A camera that mimics the human eye has been created, however, connecting it to the brain is a whole different issue. For these benefits to manifest, different situations need to be considered. Some people who are blind for one reason may require a different sort of attachment than others. This shows that even a perfect artificial eye could not cure all blindness. Still, this is a miracle achieved by science and engineering. Keep an eye on how this new advancement enters into society.

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