One of the most critical applications of technology is in the field of medicine. Thanks to mankind's constant scientific advancements, modern medicine has eradicated many deadly diseases and reduced worldwide mortality rates. Now, scientists are one step closer to restoring sight to the blind through the creation of a fully-functioning bionic eye, thanks to the wonders of 3D printing.
Last week, a research team at the University of Minnesota has managed to 3D-print a set of light sensors on a spherical surface, creating a prototype bionic eye. While the prototype is just a proof-of-concept and cannot be properly interfaced with the human brain yet, it serves as a stepping stone towards the creation of a true substitute for the human eye.
The 3D printed light-sensitive array serves a function similar to the photoreceptors found in our eyes. By fabricating similar arrays and placing them onto eyeball-like devices, scientists can create machines that can translate incoming light into visual stimuli. Such an invention can potentially serve as a substitute eye for the visually impaired. While the efficiency of the manufactured light sensors still needs to be improved, early results have been promising, with a quarter of the light hitting the array being successfully converted to electricity.
The researchers responsible for this innovation are confident that given time and further experimentation, a prototype that can replicate the human eye's functionality to a near-perfect degree can be realized. Furthermore, the team is also entertaining the possibility of bionic eyes being modified to have superhuman capabilities, such as allowing people to see beyond the normal visible spectrum of light or improving their sight beyond 20/20 visual acuity.
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