Wednesday, 20 August 2014
Advanced search

Sight for sore eyes

Bionic Vision Australia, a partnership of Australian research institutes, is to pursue the development of an advanced bionic eye.

Bionic Vision Australia, a partnership of Australian research institutes, is to pursue the development of an advanced bionic eye to improve the sight of people with degenerative or inherited retinal disease.

The partnership’s members include the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales, the Bionic Ear Institute, Centre for Eye Research Australia and the Victoria Research Laboratory of NICTA.

Over 50,000 Australians are said to have severe to profound vision loss. The major cause of severe vision impairment is degeneration or death of the cells in the eye that receive light signals.

In use, the bionic eye would effectively replace the function of these damaged light-sensing cells. While the clarity and definition of vision would not be equal to normal sight, the device will allow patients to move around, detect large objects and, in time, read text and recognise faces.

Bionic Vision Australia has submitted a detailed plan and funding request to the Australian Government to enable it to undertake the research and early clinical testing. Thus far, the New South Wales and Victoria governments have provided support.

The partnership proposes to have its first advanced prototype ready for the first human implant by early 2012.

More information about Bionic Vision Australia and the development of the bionic eye can be found at

Have your say


My saved stories (Empty)

You have no saved stories

Save this article

Digital Edition

The Engineer August Digi Issue


Several recent discoveries have indicated that it might be possible to use graphene as the basis for biocompatible implants to replace lost senses such as sight and interfacing with prosthetics. How likely is this, and what are the main roadblocks?

Previous Poll

Europe's largest tidal array in the Pentand Firth off Orkney will eventually generate up to 86MW of power. What will it take for tidal energy to make an appreciable contribution to the UK's energy needs?

Read and comment on the results here