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Paper Presentation On

Bionic Eyes - Hope for the blind!


Abstract thank God for your

Technology has done wonders for the sight

mankind. We have seen prosthetics that Than by giving a

helped overcome handicaps. Bio medical helping hand

engineers play a vital role in shaping the To those in dark.”

course of these prosthetics. Now it is the turn There is no replacement for human

of Artificial Vision through Bionic Eyes. sight. It is simply incomparable because of its

Chips-designed specifically to imitate capacity to see. Our life is full of pictures we

the characteristics of the damaged retina, and daily see. Life without sight is dark. And

the cones and rods of the organ of sight are blind people lead dark lives. As capable

implanted with a microsurgery. human beings, we need to do something more

Whether it be Bio medical, Computer, than just helping a blind person cross the

Electrical, or Mechanical Engineers – all of road.

them have a role to play in the personification Belonging to the community of

of Bionic Eyes. This multidisciplinary nature engineers – there is no frontier that we cannot

of the ‘new technology’ has inspired me to conquer. If scientists give birth to ideas, then

present this paper. it is we engineers who put life into those

There is hope for the blind in the form ideas. Today, we have every tool in our hand.

of Bionic Eyes. This technology can add life The ball is in our court! It is our turn now, to

to their vision less eyes! return what mankind has given us. What

Introduction: about bestowing sight for the blind? There is

no magic wand to do this in a jiffy. But yes!
“There is no lovelier way
We certainly know the magic route to reach
our goal: Science and Technology.
Today, we talk of artificial glaucoma can also damage the optic nerve.
intelligence that has created waves of interest Diabetes, already cited as a cause of retina
in the field of robotics. When this has been damage, can also cause degeneration of the
possible, why not artificial vision? It is with optic nerve.
this dream that I present this paper on Bionic Damage to the visual pathway does
Eyes. Sooner or later, this shall create a not always result in total loss of sight.
revolution in the field of medicine. Depending on where the damage occurs, only
It is important to know few facts about a part of the visual field may be affected. For
the organ of sight i.e, the Eye before we example, a certain form of neuritis (nerve
proceed towards the technicalities involved. inflammation), often associated with multiple
How are we able to see? sclerosis, can cause loss of only the center of

Having seen the anatomical part of human the visual field – a condition called scotoma.

eye, lets try to know as to how we are able to A stroke can cause vision impairment

see – how is an image being formed? when the resulting tissue damage occurs in

For vision to occur, 2 conditions need to be one of the regions of the brain that process

met: visual information. For example, damage to

1.An image must be formed on the retina to an area that process information about colors

stimulate its receptors (rods and cones). may result in a rare condition called acquired

2.Resulting nerve impulses must be cortical color blindness. This condition is

conducted to the visual areas of the cerebral characterized by difficulty in distinguishing

cortex for interpretation. any color – not just one or two colors as in the

Four processes focus light rays, so that more common inherited forms of color

they form a clear image on the retina blindness.

1.refraction of light rays

2.accommodation of the lens A more common treatment for curing

3.constriction of the pupil blindness has been corneal transplantation.

4.convergence of the eyes More about it:

How is vision impaired? Corneal Transplants:

Damage or degeneration of the optic Surgical removal of opaque or deteriorating

nerve, the brain, or any part of the visual corneas and replacement with donor

pathway between them, can impair vision. transplants is a common medical practice.

For example, the pressure associated with Corneal tissue is avascular; that is, the cornea
is free of blood vessels. Therefore corneal this collection of miniature solar cells is
tissue is seldom rejected by the body’s designed to convert natural light to electrical
immune system. Antibodies carried in the signals, which are then transmitted to the
blood have no way to reach the transplanted brain by the remaining healthy parts of the
tissue, and therefore long-term success retina.
following implant surgery is excellent.
What are Bionic Eyes?
An artificial eye provokes visual sensations in A Belgian device has a coil that wraps

the brain by directly stimulating different around the optic nerve, with only four points

parts of the optic nerve. of electrical contact. By shifting the phase

There are also other experimental implants and varying the strength of the signals, the

that can stimulate the ganglia cells on the coil can stimulate different parts of the optic

retina or the visual cortex of the brain itself. nerve, rather like the way the electron guns in

There is more concentration given to the TVs are aimed at different parts of the screen.

production of artificial retinas. The video signals come from an external

Here is the description of a Bionic camera and are transmitted to the implant via
a radio antenna and microchip beneath the
skin just behind the ear.
Many types of artificial eyes have been
Implants of a microchip, smaller than
designed and research is still going on . There
the head of a pin and about half the thickness
is no standard model in this case. Researchers
of a sheet of paper were used to remove
are working out different types of concepts.
Here are a few examples:
Engineering details of the Bionic
The prototype devices are 2
millimeters across and contain some 3,500 Eye:
micro photodiodes. Placed behind the retina, First, for visually impaired people to
derive the greatest benefit from an enhanced-
vision system, the image must be adapted to world and transmits the information through
their particular blind areas and areas of poor an optical fiber to a signal-processing
acuity or contrast sensitivity. Then the computer worn on the body.
information arriving instantaneously at the The surgery!
eye must be shifted around those areas. The This concept of Artificial Vision is
thrust of all prosthetic vision devices is to use also interesting to engineers, because there
an electrode array to give the user perceptions are a number of technicalities involved in this
of points of light (phosphenes) that are surgery apart from the anatomical part.
correlated with the outside world. Thus, to The microsurgery starts with three
achieve the expected shift of the image across incisions smaller than the diameter of a
the stimulating electrode array, the camera needle in the white part of the eye. Through
capturing the image must follow the wearer's the incisions, surgeons introduce a vacuuming
eye or pupil movements by monitoring the device that removes the gel in the middle of
front of the eye under infrared (IR) the eye and replaces it with saline solution.
illumination. The eye-position monitor Surgeons then make a pinpoint opening in the
controls the image camera's orientation. If the retina to inject fluid in order to lift a portion
main image-acquisition camera is not of the retina from the back of the eye,
mounted on the head, compensation for head creating a pocket to accommodate the chip.
movement will be needed, as well. The retina is resealed over the chip, and
Finally, if a retinal prosthesis is to doctors inject air into the middle of the eye to
receive power and signal input from outside force the retina back over the device and
the eye via an IR beam entering the pupil, the close the incisions.
transmitter must be aligned with the During the entire surgery, a
intraocular chip. The beam has two roles: it biomedical engineer takes part actively to
sends power, and it is pulse- or amplitude- ensure that there is no problem with the chip
modulated to transmit image data. Under the to be implanted.
control of eye movement, the main imaging Some facts about Bionic Eyes:
camera for each eye can swivel in any
Scientists at the Space Vaccum
direction. Each of these cameras--located just
Epitaxy Centre (SVEC) based at the
outside the users' field of view to avoid
University of Houston, Texas, are using a
blocking whatever peripheral vision they
new material, comprising tiny ceramic
might have--captures the image of the outside
photocells that could detect incoming light
and repair malfunctioning human eyes. medical field and that is the use of Brain
Scientists at SVEC are conducting Implants to remove blindness.
preliminary tests on the biocompatibility of In recent years, progress is being
this ceramic detector. made towards sensory substitution
The artificial retinas constructed at devices for the blind. In the long run,
SVEC consist of 100,000 tiny ceramic there could be the possibility of brain
detectors, each 1/20th the size of a human hair. implants. A brain implant or cortical
The assemblage is so small that surgeons implant provides visual input from a
can’t safely handle it. So, the arrays are camera directly to the brain via
attached to a polymer film one millimeter in electrodes in contact with the visual
size. After insertion into an eyeball, the cortex at the backside of the head.
polymer film will simply dissolve leaving If we try to do a fair and
only the array behind after a couple of weeks. objective comparison between auditory
The Analogy: display technology and brain implant

There is a great degree of coherence technology it should first be stressed that

between the way our eyes function to that of a result of any comparisons can of course

camera. Perhaps – our eyes had been the change over time as the respective

inspiration behind the camera’s invention. technologies are further developed and

Here’s more about it: refined.

From the structural point of view the eye may The Challenges:
be compared with a camera. The eyelids act There are many very many obstacles to be overcome b
as a shutter and there is an entrance window Bionic Eyes become a success story.
for light – the cornea; a diaphragm to regulate Our eyes are perhaps the most sensitive of all organs in the hu
the aperture and therefore the amount of light body. A nano-sized irritant
entering – the iris; a lens to focus the image; a can create havoc in the eye.
darkened interior formed by the choroid, and • There are 120 million rods and 6 million cones in the r
a light –sensitive plate which receives the of every
image – the retina. healthy human eye. Creating an artificial replacement for
Brain Implants: is no
There is one more concept similar to easy task.
Bionic Eyes that is also making waves in the • Si based photo detectors have been tried in earlier atte
But Si
is toxic to the human body and reacts unfavorably with fluids in
the eye.
• There are many doubts as to how the brain will react to
foreign signals
generated by artificial light sensors.
• Infection and negative reaction are the always-feared factors.
It is
imperative that all precautionary measures need to be
Restoration of sight for the blind is no more a dream today.
Bionic Eyes have made this true.
Though there are a number of challenges to be faced before this
technology reaches the
common man, the path has been laid. This paper has tried to present
the concept of
Artificial Vision through a engineers viewpoint. Engineers play a
major role in the design
stage of Bionic Eyes.
It is just a matter of 4-5 years, that the blind will be able to see
through these Bionic Eyes;
thanks to Science and Technology.
1. Neural Implants – First Bionic Eyes by Victor Chase.
2. Hitting the Nerve (from the New Scientist).
3. Doctors Test Chips in Eyeballs to Restore Sight from
5. Anthony’s textbook of Anatomy and Physiology - Gary A
Thibodeau, Kevin T Patton
6. Science Reporter (December 2004)