For the first time ever, scientists have given a previously blind woman sight by way of a bionic eye. The Australian-designed implant, which resembles the model worn by Arnie in The Terminator, is likely to transform the lives of millions worldwide.
Dianne Ashworth, who is suffering from the incurable condition retinitis pigmentosa, had lost almost all vision when surgeons at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital in Melbourne performed the groundbreaking surgery in May.
A month later the device was switched on.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but all of a sudden, I could see a little flash…it was amazing. Every time there was stimulation there was a different shape that appeared in front of my eye,” said Ashworth in a statement.
The device consists of 24 electrodes attached to the retina. Each time they receive a signal from the outside world, they stimulate the retina, which then sends an impulse back to the brain.
So far, scientists have used the bionic eye to create simple patterns from the twenty four signals – like the shapes of a tree or a house – and see whether Ashworth is able to identify them.