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The magic eye that could help blind to 'see' again


Active Member
Sep 10, 2004
AN ARTIFICIAL eye that could enable blind people to recognise the faces of their family was hailed as "revolutionary" and potentially "life-changing" yesterday.

The device uses a camera linked to a computer chip embedded in the eye to relay images to the brain.

To date, it has managed to produce only dots or rows of dots, but it is hoped further developments within the next five years will enable people to recognise doors and walls and ultimately learn to differentiate between familiar faces.

The system is being developed in the United States and progress towards a useful version of the bionic eye was reported at the Royal National Institute for the Blind’s Vision 2005 conference yesterday by Professor Gislin Dagnelie, of Johns Hopkins University.

The RNIB said the new invention was "very exciting" but warned there was still work to be done to turn the artificial eye into a working machine.

Prof Dagnelie has been working with sighted people, trying to train them to recognise the type of images that would be created by the camera.

"We are talking about a prosthetic vision system that is going to give blind people images made up of dots and streaks that are going to take a bit of fine-tuning before we can present useful vision to them.

"The first time they see them, they say the images are horrendous and that they cannot see anything, but over time things get better and better."

He has been co-operating with a California company, Second Sight, which has tested a primitive system that enables people to differentiate between vertical and horizontal lines.