The life we live is full of colors and pictures we look at every day, but a life without sight is dark. It is a dark world in which blind people live. A blind person should receive more than just assistance crossing the street; they should also be treated with dignity and respect as human beings. We, the engineers, are bound to achieve almost no impossible goal if we try. In other words, if scientists come up with ideas, engineers may put them into action. With all the technological advances in our current hands, it’s now our time to return what humankind gave us.
Globally, approximately 40 million people suffer from blindness, and about 140 million people suffer from low vision. Of all the countries suffering from blindness, India is having the highest number of blind people. As with the bionic eye, it seeks to restore vision to those suffering from an eye disease such as retinitis pigmentosa. An integrated video camera and a pair of glasses are used to capture and process images. A wireless connection transmits images to a small processing unit that converts them into electronic signals. These signals are then transmitted to a retinal implant or electrode that sends visual signals to the brain to be processed. Therefore, blind people also have a vision by this method.
In this article, we will study all that there is to the bionic eye or eye implant including how does it work and what are the limitations that are associated with this method since it involves the implant related to the eyes. Read the followings section to educate yourself correctly about this procedure and consult your doctor before any decision.
What is Eye Implant (Bionic Eye)
An artificial eye is a device that provides visual impressions to the brain. This system comprises electronic components like image sensors, microprocessors, receivers, radio transmitters, and retinal chips. Blind people are provided with technology that enables them to see again with this method.
This system has a computer chip embedded in the back of the affected eye and is connected to a mini video camera embedded in the glasses the individual is wearing. As images are captured by the camera, they are focused on the chip, which turns them into an electronic signal that the brain can read. Even though the images produced by the Bionic eye were not clear, they were still sufficient to be recognized. Rather than bypass the diseased cells in the retina, the implant goes directly through the remaining possibilities.
Nearsightedness may be treated with Intacs, an FDA-approved non-laser procedure in which corneal ring segments are placed inside the cornea. Tiny, clear prescription eye inserts, Intacs are tiny and require no batteries or batteries. Ophthalmologists place them during a simple outpatient procedure in the periphery of the cornea. They are flexible, crescent-shaped rings that fit over the cornea’s edge. Patients suffering from mild nearsightedness with Intacs inserts can decrease their nearsightedness by flattening the front of the eye.
Most often, the Intacs procedure is recommended to patients suffering from minor nearsightedness. Treatment cannot help vision problems related to farsightedness, severe nearsightedness, or astigmatism
Available Bionic Eye System
Second sight developed Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, an FDA-approved bionic eye system developed by a California-based company. This is a biomedical implant meant to partially restore the useful vision for people with blindness caused by this disease. An online survey indicates that out of every 5,000 people there is one who has that disease. Using retinal implants sends pulse signals to the brain to assist the blind. In addition to the mini video camera, it is attached to a video processor which converts the data into electrical signals that are carried to electrodes from which nerve impulses can be interpreted by the brain. A blind person can see as an average person, although it may not be 100% accurate.
Bionic Eyes V/S Prosthetic Eyes
In contrast to prosthetic eyes, the bionic eye is not equivalent to them. In prosthetic eyes (also known as glass eyes or artificial eyes), the physical structure and appearance of an eye are replaced when the original is removed due to trauma, pain, disfigurement, or disease. By contrast, bionic eye implants operate directly inside the existing structures of the eye or in the brain. Rather than being purely cosmetic, functional glasses are designed to improve vision.
An electrode array is implanted onto a blind person’s damaged retina using the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, which consists of a tiny eyeglass-mounted camera and a transmitter that wirelessly transmits signals.
In the same way, no single cause can cause blindness, there is no single cure. Knowing the reason(s) behind your vision loss is the first step to determining whether a bionic eye could help you.
The process of seeing begins with the passage of light into the eye. Light from the cornea and lens is focused onto the retina at the back of the eyeball. After the retina receives the concentrated light, its light-sensitive cells convert it into electrical energy, which is sent to the brain through the optic nerve.
Some parts of this process don’t function for blind people. When the cornea or lens is damaged or diseased, or the retina has difficulty detecting light, eye problems can occur. Another explanation is the visual signal is lost somewhere along the pathway to the brain.
Depending on the model, the bionic eye targets different areas in the visual pathway. Currently, retinal implants are the only bionic eyes that are approved and commercially available, though corneal transplants and cataract surgery can replace the cornea and lens if these structures are cloudy or incapable of focusing light for other reasons.
Future of Bionic Eyes
We will be able to use an increasing number of electrodes in the next few years to provide a better quality of vision, including more color, and improved functionality to people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa and other retinal diseases, including macular degeneration. Currently, scientists are testing devices with even more electrodes so signals can bypass the retina and be sent directly to the brain. As part of Argus II’s next-generation retinal stimulator, there will be 60 controllable electrodes for subjects to be beamed with images of higher resolution.
An Overview of How a Bionic Eye Works
In comparison to the vision humans once had, bionic eyes provide new vision. Although it improves the quality of vision, it still does not restore the whole vision. During a trial taken by the manufacturer, about half of the blind people were able to read large letters. They measure about 9 inches high from about 1 foot away or about 23 centimeters tall from about 0.3 meters away. Many blind persons can read smaller letters, which are usually between 1-2 inches high when viewed from a distance of one foot or about 2.5-5 centimeters high viewed from a distance of 0.3 meters, as well as short words. It was determined that most blind persons benefited from the Argus II System after the test was completed.
Limitations of Eye Implant
It might seem that an eye implant has a lot of positives because it can help a blind person have vision again, but not all are true. It comes with its set of limitations. Thanks to modern technology, a lot can be achieved now, but it surely does have a flip side. In this section we will discuss the limitations of having an eye implant:
- It’s time to speak of the cost for the Bionic Eyes: A pair of Bionic Eyes would cost something like $30,000, which is an amount that is not favorable for the affected person.
- Optical therapeutics are not effective on all types of eye disease-affected people; for instance, they won’t help glaucoma patients at all. Rather, it is meant to help people affected by retinitis pigmentosa.
- The artificial replacement for a human body is a high-risk endeavor with the possibility of causing death or other dire situations.
- We already know that it is not a human eye, but a bionic eye, so if one was affected one would not be able to get 100% of perfect vision.
Eye Implants FAQs
What Is the Intac Placement Process?
A brief procedure in your ophthalmologist’s office places an intravenous implant.
An ophthalmologist numbs your eyes first with eye drops that have been specially formulated. Following that, your doctor will make a small incision in the top of your eye.
This incision is used to insert the two crescent-shaped segments of the ring on the left and right sides of your inner cornea.
It takes roughly 15-20 minutes to place the rings; however, the whole procedure generally takes about an hour when preparation is taken into consideration.
What are the advantages of using Intacs for nearsightedness?
People with farsightedness have an elongated cornea, so they can take advantage of the effects of intact by reshaping the cornea.
After the implants are placed in the eye, there is no maintenance required, and the patient cannot detect the implant. It is similar to contact lenses in that it is possible to modify it if your vision worsens. With most patients, the procedure results in 20/20 vision following the procedure.
Intacs require no corneal tissue to be removed (as opposed to laser eye surgery), which allows a patient to undergo subsequent vision correction treatments if necessary.
Are You a Good Candidate for Intacs?
People with mild nearsightedness who have been able to keep their vision stable for at least a year, who have completed 21 years of age, and who have no diseases or injuries to their eyes are the best candidates for Intacs.
Are there any risks associated with implanting Intacs?
Whenever a treatment is performed, there is the possibility that a problem may arise. Intacs can affect the eye, making it difficult to see at night, affecting sight clearly, and causing difficulty judging distances.
The doctor performing your surgery will discuss potential complications with you before treatment. When the patient is unhappy with the results of their corneal rings, unlike many other surgical procedures, the rings can be removed and corrected or replaced to achieve a better sight.
Intacs: How Successful Are They?
A survey shows that approximately 74% of U.S. patients receiving Intacs had 20/20 vision or better within a year, and 97% or more had 20/40 or better after a year. Individuals can achieve different results.
Recovering from the procedure takes how long?
Following the administration of Intacs, the patient can usually return to his or her normal activities within one or two days. After a month or so, most people’s eyes will recover and their vision will stabilize. During your healing process, you are still able to drive, read, and work.