Researchers working on the ambitious project led by Monash University to build a bionic eye have revealed they are ready to start human trials next year. “We have gone past the point of no return, where the device has been manufactured in prototype form and it is working in the laboratory,” said Jeffrey Rosenfeld​, director of the Monash Institute of Medical Engineering. Professor Rosenfeld​ outlined the group’s progress in Washington DC on Monday, at the American Association for Neurology Surgeons’ annual scientific meeting. 

The human trial will involve patients who have lost their sight having tiny “ceramic tiles” the size of a small fingernail implanted into their brain’s visual cortex at the Alfred Hospital, where Professor Rosenfeld​ is director of neurosurgery. Up to five patients will participate in the trial. All will have lost their sight but Professor Rosenfeld​ said this could be due to a range of reasons. This is because the device bypasses the normal visual pathway, unlike the other bionic eye being developed by Bionic Vision Australia which relies on an implant in the retina. MORE