Bionic eye implants, augmented reality, 3D-printed digital contact lenses, so much has been happening in the world of eye care. In fact, the future of vision and eye care is surrounded by science-fiction powered by digital technology with health apps pouring from all sides.
Above 80-percent perception comes through vision
Researchers estimated that 80-85 percent of human perception, learning, activities and cognition are directly mediated through vision. Compared to that, hearing only covers 11-percent of the information whereas smell accounts for 3.5-percent and taste only one-percent.
It’s pretty much possible only if you can imagine being in the middle of an open field with clear skies and sunshine above and humming of the bees in distant air. How far can you hear and how far can you see? Obviously, vision can easily take a wide view as compared to hearing that’s limited to hardly 10-20 metres maximum.
Consider it almost a cliché emphasising the importance of eyes and vision with the above being the simplest example of one of the most important sensory organs of human. Ask those who catch an eye disease and their urge to get it cured ASAP!
Eye conditions, worldwide affects rising
In 2015, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness estimated that approximately 36-million people around the world are blind with more or less 217-million suffering from mild to severe distance vision impairment. Comparing the statistics with 1990, the prevalence of blindness and vision impairment has dropped from almost 4.6 to 3.6-percent as in 2015. This can be attributed to advancement in technology, the coming of new surgical techniques and various health apps for rightful treatment of the many eye infections and even to find a doctor in the UAE.
Digital technology is playing an active role for reducing vision related ailments with the very field of ophthalmology being transformed in the past few years. New and innovative solutions are now offered for a variety of eye diseases whereby treating minor ailments has accelerated with targeted and more efficient solutions.
Bionic eyes to reverse blindness
Creative minds and visionaries in Ophthalmology experienced a boost with advanced technologies. In fact, certain conditions that can actually result in blindness such as AMD or retinitis pigmentosa; an inherited eye issue that cause gradual loss of sight and eventual blindness has been successfully treated using latest tech and medical findings.
Development of implantable visual prosthetics for the restoration of vision amongst the blind due to retinitis pigmentosa actually happened in 2016 when blind women was fitted with a “bionic eye” in the Oxford Eye Hospital allowing her to see for the first time in six years.
A year earlier, that is in 2015, surgeons in Manchester carried the first bionic eye implant procedure on an 80-year old AMD patient who lost his entire central vision. The retinal implant however was unable to restore highly-detailed vision but the patient can actually recognise distinct patters such as shapes, door hinges and frames so on.
Artificial retina & brain implants
The Argus II device for helping people with retinitis pigmentosa for vision restoration cost around $150,000, only 250 of these are sold so far. Not very long before, a modified version has been underway which leaves the eye out and instead mobilises part of the brain that’s responsible for the processing visual information; the visual cortex.
It’s able to deliver electrical pulses thereby telling the brain to perceive light patterns. The innovation is geared to aid more than six-million blind people in future through various causes such as cancer, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and traumatic injury.
Now, instead of those “bionic eyes” stimulating brain cells with the lights coming from a micro video came or stimulation of the visual cortex directly through electrodes, a far more futuristic approach has been taken for the retinal degeneration that’s basically replacement of the damaged with an artificial retina. The results so far have been highly promising on lab rats whereas preliminary results on humans are expected to come out in 2018.
The role of health apps and technology in all this revolution couldn’t be overlooked! We’ll continue looking into remarkable reforms in vision and eye care in part two of the series.