For many years, there has been a lot of research being performed on systems that can allow the blind to see again. One of those systems is a visual prosthetic device from a company called Pixium Vision. This device uses video goggles that record images and then beam the images to the eye in infrared.
This interesting device gets the power it needs to operate from a photovoltaic cell that is implanted into the eye removing the need for a battery that needs charging or replacement for the implantable device. The French company behind the device is planning to conduct clinical trials in 2016.
The little chip that is the heart of the Pixium Vision system is 100mm square and is surgically implanted into the eye where it sits behind the retina. Once behind the retina, the chip will be able to replicate the function of normal photoreceptor cells that die off in some people with retinal diseases leaving the relay cells inside the eye intact.
The strong IR light produced by the goggles is used to power the implanted chip and transmits the images into the eye. The team says that normal ambient light isn’t strong enough to power the chip. That implanted chip will receive the light pattern and stimulate the underlying relay cells accordingly. The team says that the device was able to give blind rats vision equivalent to 20/250 in humans during testing, enough to allow a human to see the top letter on a vision chart. A next generation device is aiming to get vision up to 20/120.