Aid from the Bionic Eye
I wear corrective lenses. 75% of American adults use some sort of vision correction. My lenses correct my myopia (nearsightedness), to make my vision as close to 20/20 as possible. I’m happy to be able to read, drive and check email on my phone – although not all at the same time. But what if technology could come to my aid?
Dr. Garth Webb decided 20/20 is not enough. He invented a bionic contact lens called OcumeticsTM, that could allow people to see almost 3 times better than 20/20. Dr. Webb’s work was based on the ground-breaking work of Babak Parviz, a UW assistant professor of electrical engineering, who in 2008 was able to demonstrate the basic technology.
The goal of OcumeticsTM is stated at their website: “Seeing clearly at all distances without glasses or contact lenses is a goal for many of us, and that goal is fast becoming a reality.”
Dr. Webb claims that the 8 minute surgery is virtually identical to cataract surgery and less invasive than Lasik surgery where alterations to the pupil are made. The small bionic lens is inserted at the side of the eye via a syringe. Once inside the eye, the bionic lens opens within the human lens.
How Does It Work?
The ability of the bionic lens to focus at extremely short distances or at very long distances gives the user a large range of focus. Because the bionic lens uses 1/100 the amount of energy of the natural eye, it would function without the typical eye strain associated with visualizing at extremes. Along with eye-strain, the OcumetricsTM Bionic Lens would correct the two very common eye diseases of cataracts and glaucoma.
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) notes 236 million people with eye diseases and 17 million who are blind. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in low and middle income countries. In America more than half of all Americans, by the time they are 80, will need cataract surgery.
“Why haven’t I heard about this before?” Probably because the bionic lens is not yet available to the public. Availability will come after more testing. The bionic eyeball, however, is currently available in Europe for 73,000 Euros ($99,120). Not commonly affordable at that price.
Technology has the potential to benefit mankind greatly. The ability to see is so basic that we rarely think about it. But right now, I am thinking about it and think I would like everyone to have (or regain) the ability to see. We may not see eye-to-eye on other aspects of life and living, but at least on this one, we can agree. People need to see.