Researchers at the University of Southern California's Doheny Eye Institute have snagged the all-important FDA approval need to begin clinical trials of their bionic eye implant, joining a growing number of other groups following in Lee Majors footsteps. Once underway, between 50 and 75 patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration will be outfitted with the implant, which has already seen some degree of success in limited testing. As the image above shows, in its current form at least, the device isn't completely implantable, also consisting of a small camera mounted on a pair of glasses that's wired to a handheld device. It works by processing images from the camera and wirelessly transmitting them to a receiver implanted in the eye, which in turn sends signals to a series of electrodes that stimulate the retina, sending the information to the brain, all of which happens in real time. While it won't restore full sight, the researchers say patients should be able to detect light and distinguish objects from one another. If all goes as planned, they also foresee the device being commercially available shortly after the trials are complete, although it obviously won't come cheap, with an expected price tag of $30,000. Let's just hope a mirror shades version isn't too far behind.

[Via BBC News]

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