The ability to restore sight of the blind is one of the most overwhelming acts of ameliorate medicine can achieve, in terms of the effect on the affected patient’s life and one of the most difficult for modern medicine to achieve this goal. According to researchers they can restore vision in a limited number of situation and there are some early bionic eyes on the market that can restore limited vision in some of the specific situation. Now researchers may have taken a big and fair step towards changing that in the future, with the results of a new experiment to design a Bionic Retina.
The research team in question has published a paper detailing the construction of hemispherical retina built with high-density nanowires. The spherical shape of retina has been a major challenge for biomimetic devices.
Light enters the eye through the lens, which is curved in shape, it means that the light hits the retina is already been curved. If you use a flat sensor to capture it, then a limit value of image can be focused. After flat sensor research AI might be able to help, but amount of processing power available at the back side of a human eyeball is limited and the delay requirement for vision is almost nil. After all of this Researchers are able to solve the hemisphere problem. That’s what Zhiyong Fan, an Electronic And Computer Engineer at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the rest of the research team did.
They started with a hemisphere of aluminum foil. Electrochemical treatment transformed the foil into an insulator known as aluminum oxide, and left it studded with nanoscale holes across its service. These densely-clustered holes became the channels for perovskite nanowires that imitate the function of retina itself. Perovskite is used in the manufacture of solar cells. Once the nanowires grew, the researchers capped the eye with an artificial lens and filled it with an ionic liquid to imitate the vitreous humor in our own eyeball.
This ionic liquid is important for the process, allowing the nano wires to detect light and transmit its signals to external, image-processing electronics.
The performance of the artificial eye is very impressive. Because this artificial eye isn’t limited by the biological parameters of our own lens, it can respond to the wavelengths of light upto 800nm. The human visual top range around 740mm; colours above this wavelength appear are black to us. Processing time for light patterns is ~19ms, half of the time of the human eye. Cutting the eye’s reaction speed to 19ms might reduce total human reaction time and the artificial eye’s image sharpening and overall clarity is better than those produced by the Mark I Eyeball.
In short, this artificial retina seems better than our natural retina, this is the first time something like this has been built. This artificial retina doesn’t have any blind spot.
The Long Road Ahead
As Scientific American details, there’s a lot of work to do before integrated into any working device or technology like this. This artificial retina doesn’t directly integrate with brain as system second sight. It is a proof-of-concept of artificial retina that might one day integrate with bionic eye, provided current problems can be overcome.
Overcoming those problems is very difficult. The human visual system is not a camera, the idea that we benefit from the features of the sensor offers tacitly assuming that we can connect it to the brain without any difficulty, to allow these benefits to show. Because there are different forms of blindness, solutions that work for one type may not work for another. Blindness caused by brain damage would be recovered by this kind of solution,even a perfect artificial eye won’t let us restore sight of every single person.
Still, this long-term hard work is extremely impressive. Less than a decade since the first gray scale, low-resolution artificial sensors came to market. Now we’re trying to figure out how to build a superior system and connect it to the server backend.