Eyeball-Implanted Camera Patent May Bring Electronic Vision, One Day

BionicEye.jpgImplanting a micro-camera directly into the eyeball may be a future solution for restoring sight to people with damaged vision, according to this patent application. The camera could be charged wirelessly, and communicate directly with a chip implanted at the back of the eye, so very little external hardware would be needed:

Technology to restore sight to the blind by using electronic retinas has been around for a while, but the link between the retina and external cameras has involved wires, which just seems clumsy. UCLA Optical engineer Michelle Hauer thinks that technology may have advanced enough to embed a tiny camera inside the lens of the eye, capable of adapting for corneal optical effects and perhaps using haptics to stabilize its position. The camera would transmit images to a nerve-stimulating chip at the back of the eye, resulting in a complete electronic vision system.

Impressive idea, and I hope it makes its way into real medical devices sometime soon. In the meantime, I'm wondering if you could adapt it for infrared vision, or have a telephoto zoom built right into your eye. [Patent for intraocular camera via New Scientist]

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