[AI] Scientists Invent Bionic Eyeball To Cure Blindness

shahnaz shycurrim at yahoo.co.in
Fri Jun 20 04:48:37 EDT 2008

    Wednesday, 18 June , 2008, 12:39
German scientists have invented a wireless bionic eyeball that can
restore vision
to patients who have become blind due to retina damage or disease.
The new prosthetic device caps 12 years of research to help these
patients. This
work has resulted in a unique system - a fully implantable visual
prosthesis. The
scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits
and Systems
in Duisburg, Germany, say that the bionic eye can bypass the damaged retina.
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The system comprises an implant and an external transmitter
integrated in an eyeglasses-frame.
The implant system converts the image patterns into interpretable
stimulation signals,
and data and energy are transferred to the implant by a telemetric
link. Nerve cells
inside the eye are then stimulated according to the captured images.
The intact cells
are innervated by means of 3-D stimulation electrodes that rest
against the retina
like small studs.
As long as there is no damage to the optic nerve, the vision signals
can be sent
to the brain just like they are with healthy eyes. "For normally
sighted people that
may not seem much, but for the blind, it is a major step," comments
Hoc Khiem Trieu
of the Fraunhofer Institute. "After years of blindness, the patients
were able to
see spots of light or geometric patterns, depending on how the nerve
cells were stimulated."
Trieu has been involved from the outset of this project, which was
funded by the
Germany's Education and Research Ministry. Together with two other
scientists, Ingo
Krisch and DMichael Goertz, he translated the specifications given by
the medical
experts and material scientists into an implant and chip design. "A
milestone was
reached when the prosthetic system finally operated wirelessly and
remotely controlled,"
explains Dr. Krisch.
"A great deal of detailed work was necessary before the implant could
be activated
without any external cable connections. "The designs became smaller
and smaller,
the materials more flexible, more robust and higher in performance,
so that the implant
now fits comfortably in the eye," reports Goertz.
The scientists are to receive the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2008
for their work.

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