$3M Funding Supports Monash Bionic Eye Quest
Time: 2014-12-05 07:30  Click:672

Doctor Penny Allen (R) examines Dianne Ashworth, who is fitted with a prototype bionic eye, in Melbourne August 20, 2012. A bionic eye has given the Australian woman partial sight and researchers say it is an important step towards eventually helping visually impaired people get around independently.


One of the most promising research projects in the quest to restore vision to the blind received a huge amount of donations from two respected business leaders. With these, the Monash Vision Group can move forward with the Bionic Eye clinical trials that are expected to culminate next year.

According to the Monash University media release, Dr Marc Besen and Monash University Chancellor, Alan Finkel have each donated $1 million to the project through their respective foundations. Monash University has also pledged an additional $1 million. These benevolent support ensures that MVG is on track through the next phase of the project.

More than 50,000 Australians have vision impairment and the number exceeds 160 million worldwide.  The Bionic Eye gives the blind a chance to recover from loss of sight and the likelihood to improve their lives.
The MVG named this bionic eye, Gennaris.  Advanced digital and biomedical technology is synthesized with comfortable eyewear. The researchers have a detailed illustration on how it works.   A digital camera implanted in the eye glasses captures actual images from the user's surroundings. A vision processor extracts the most important features from these images, and then, a wireless transmitter sends this information to a series of tiles that are implanted behind the brain. Each tile stimulates the visual cortex of the brain to produce patterns of light. Over time, the user learns to interpret these patterns as visual images.
Dr Alan Finkel sees great potential in this innovation and thinks that it could even exceed the success of other technology that have endeavoured to treat vision impairment. He also believes that this would showcase Australia's reputation for science and innovation.
In late November this year, MVG has announced that plans for the project's next phase might be jeopardized because of lack of funds. Fortunately, philanthropic benefactors saw the potential and global relevance of this pursuit and guaranteed their support.  MVG Director, Professor Arthur Lowery, has expressed gratitude and reassurance for the funding received.
The Gennaris Bionic Eye project is in partnership with Monash University, Grey Innovation, Alfred Health and MiniFAB. It was able to sustain operations since its establishment five years ago with the aid of government funding through the Australian Research Council (ARC), Special Research Initiative in Bionic Vision Science and Technology, and Monash University.
Read more at: http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/574977/20141205/bionic-eye-monash-project-blindness-sight-restoration.htm#.VIFNqtKUdIk
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