Bionic Eye Implants Giving Vision Back To Blind

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A growing number of people who were once blind can now see with the help of a bionic eye implant.

It seems like science fiction, but bionic eye technology is bringing the world into better focus for people who are blind.

Anthony Andreotolla is one of those who have received the implant.

After losing his vision while a teenager, he lived in blackness for 20 years, until receiving a bionic eye.

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A tiny camera in the glasses sends images to a wearable computer. The images are processed and sent wirelessly to an implant on the eye.

“It’s really a marriage of technology, micro-electronics, wireless technology, Bluetooth wireless, glasses, communication and tissue,” said Dr. Allen Ho of Wills Eye Institute.

“I don’t see things the way other people do,” said Andreotolla. “I see everything in different flashes, lights, shapes.”

It’s more of a cloudy, black and white vision.

“I can tell the difference between a car or a bus or a truck,” said Andreotolla. “I can’t tell you what make the car is.”

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That helps him navigate life more safely.

“I have my hope back. Once I lost my sight I resigned to be blind for the rest of my life,” said Andreotolla. “I’m not resigned to that anymore. I believe if I can live long enough, I’ll be able to see, you know, a lot of beautiful things.”

The developer of the bionic eye is now working on the next generation with faster processing and sharper images. They’re hoping to someday make it available to patients with other forms of blindness.

Wills Eye was one of the first in the county to test and use the bionic eye.

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