New visual simulations give us a glimpse of what it might look like to see the world through bionic eyes. Since the FDA’s approval of the world’s first bionic eye system, the Argus II, more and more people who were once blind can now see (more than 80 by March 2014, according to a study in Neuroscience Letters). Although researchers estimated that the vision would be close to a grainy black and white film with a visual acuity of 20/1260, as opposed to general healthy vision of 20/20, there wasn’t a very robust model to back this up.
God’s plan is always more beautiful than our desire.
Retinal cells in our eyes called rods and cones covert light into electrical impulses that are sent to the brain.
“The Argus II bionic eye system is the major electrical prosthesis device on the market”
This simulation may not be able to give full color vision, but it can show light and dark contrast, which is enough to begin to perceive objects in space. Optogenetics, on the other hand, is where proteins are inserted into the surviving retinal cells to make them more light-sensitive, essentially forcing them to do the job of the missing rods and cones. However, this technology has yet to be implanted in humans.
The team at University of Washington used data from optogenetics research as well as predictions based on the performance of patients who had received electrical prosthesis to create more accurate representations of restored sight. These new models show the potential distortions and difficulties that those who receive either the electrical prosthesis or optogenetics might have.