Here’s how the world could look to someone with a bionic eye

University of Washington researchers have created visual simulations that mimic what people who undergo sight surgeries might see if they receive a retinal implant, UW Today reported.

The simulations give people who have not undergone a retinal implant surgery the opportunity to get a sense of how the world looks through a bionic eye for the first time.

In the series of black and white videos which show a kid riding by on a scooter, the leftmost shows what someone with a bionic eye would ideally see after therapy.

Screenshot bionic eye
The YouTube


While the background is notably sharp, the fast-moving child seems to disappear like a phantom when he rides by. The other two movies are a lot more blurry, and display what a person would most likely see after eye surgery. 

Associate Professor of Psychology Ione Fine, who led the research along with Geoffrey Boynton, said that their motive was to inform and remind people not to take artificial eye surgery lightly. 

“[Getting a bionic eye] is a really difficult decision to make,” Fine told UW Today. “These devices involve long surgeries and they don’t restore anything close to normal vision. The more information patients have, the better.” 

Boynton told UW Today that an artificial eye implant would electrically stimulate the retina, which is vastly different than how it would respond to “real visual input.” This results in sluggish reaction times, comet-like fuzzy shapes and blurred outlines according to the report. Unfortunately, patients have never experienced the clarity of the leftmost “scoreboard” imagery. 

Another shortcoming: the costly procedure can cost around $US2,000 to $US8,000. But more people might need it than ever: over 20 million Americans are losing their vision, and that number is expected to double in 2030, according to the American Foundation for the Blind

You can watch the entire simulation below:

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