The Bionic Eye
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bionic eye

The human eye is such a marvel of evolution that scientists have not been able to reproduce it. Yet with each new generation of the bionic eye, they’re getting closer. The newest one bypasses the optical nerve which is significant since the leading cause of blindness is damage to those nerves, usually caused by glaucoma. The optic nerves consist of millions of fibers that relay signals from the retina to the brain so that we can see. This new bionic eye is called The Gennaris Bionic Vision System.

A camera captures the scene, sends the signals to a cellphone sized processor which then gets relayed wirelessly to tiny square tiles implanted in the brain’s visual cortex. Next the microneedle electrodes on the tiles transmit the data into signals that stimulate neurons in the brain. The users see one hundred seventy-two spots of light that allow them to make out people and objects.

In this study, electrode tiles were implanted into three sheep. After three months of these tiles stimulating the animals’ brains, there were no ill health effects. Scientists did find microscopic damage to brain tissue around the tiles, most likely from the high levels of charge delivered with each stimulation. But, the level and frequency of stimulations in the study were much higher than what would be necessary for humans. Even so, the sheep had no change in behavior or motor control.

What really made scientists believe these organisms ate viruses were two particular protists: picozoans and choanozoans. Neither had ANY bacterial DNA but they all had similar types of bacteriophage DNA even though these two protists are not closely related. So, most likely they did not pick up the viruses by chance!

The hope is that eventually the sixty million people who’ve lost their vision to glaucoma, will see again.

For more information…

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