Four blind Australians have vision restored through bionic eye implantation.
Before the trial, the patients, who lost their vision due to degenerative Pigmentosa Retinitis, could feel light and dark but could not see their hands waving in front of them.
Bionic Vision Technologies says patients can now distinguish surrounding objects with pixelated grayscale, giving them the ability to navigate without the help of guide dogs, sticks or family members.
The Associate principal researcher Professor Penny Allen said the technology could be a game-changer for one-in-4000 Australians affected by Pigmentosa Retinitis, because there is no way to delay or cure genetic disorders.
"This is now a very significant cause of blindness in working age people; our range of patients is in their 30s to mid-60s, "he said.
"We are very happy with their progress and they are truly happy; and that is the best of all. "
Prof. Allen, who is a leading surgeon at the Australian Eye Research Center, will present this research at the Australian and New Zealand Scientific annual meeting of Scientific Ophthalmologists in Adelaide on Monday.
While there are other bionic eyes on the foreign market, Prof. Allen said Australian technology is simpler and safer, while researchers have designed their own vision processing software.
Bionic eyes work by capturing images through a camera connected to the glasses and sending them to an external processing unit carried in a handbag or clipped to a belt.
The information is then sent back to a device that is magnetically attached to the patient's scalp, which is connected via tin to a device planted in their eyes, and then processed by the brain.
Following the operation, the next phase of the research began when participants took technology from the lab and entered the house.
First, they have to undergo training that involves other obstacles and tests, while learning to "believe" what they see after years of not having a vision, said Prof Allen.
"We work with them to identify the things they want to do at home, the normal tasks that we all do.
"A patient sorts the wash, the color is white, and one patient wants to be able to navigate independently of things in the backyard, like a lemon tree."