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Bionic Eye may Restore Sight to the Blind

d the ear with a wire connection to the eye implant, but the improved version will fit under the skin around the eye.

More significantly, it now has 60 pixels instead of 16 and because it is smaller the operation to implant it is much less traumatic, taking just 90 minutes instead of eight hours. Eyesight will also be increased correspondingly, say the scientists.

Humayun predicts that it will cost around $30,000, which he says is just about the cost of a cochlear transplant and he believes that his implants will be most successful in patients who were once fully sighted, rather than people who were blind from birth.

However he wants to try the device out in those people too.

Speaking in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Humayun was quoted: "Our work to date with our retinal prosthesis has exceeded all expectations we had, and we are very excited and look forward to the results from our 60-channel implant."

The technology is being targeted at both young and elderly patients blinded by either retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration.

Approximately 25 million people, six million in the United States alone, have lost most or all of their vision to such diseases, a figure Humayun said researchers expect will double by 2020.


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