Bionic eye implants may become a reality over the next couple of years after Australian researchers implanted an early prototype of the device in a blind woman who says that she can now see flashes of light.
Dianne Ashworth, 54, became the first woman to be fitted with the electronic device after losing her vision due to a condition known as retinitis pigmentosa. The implant was fitted by doctors at Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital back in May and was switched on by researchers at Bionics Institute in East Melbourne last month after she recovered from her surgery.
The researchers said that the device is fitted with electrodes which is connected to a receptor at the back of Ms Ashworth's ear and sends electrical impulses to nerve cells in the eye. They added that they will be working with Ms Ashworth over the next few months to determine how the brain interprets these electric impulses.
"The team is looking for consistency of shapes, brightness, size and location of flashes to determine how the brain interprets this information. Having this unique information will allow us to maximize our technology as it evolves through 2013 and 2014", Bionics Institute director Rob Shepherd said.