Dianne Ashworth recieved a bionic eye, which was created, built and tested by the Bionic Vision Australia, a consortium of researchers partially funded by the Australian government. Ashworth has severe vision loss from an inherited condition called retinitis pigmentosa.
"It was really funny when it switched on I was waiting, waiting," she said. "I had these goggles on and I didn’t know what to expect. Then all of a sudden I went ‘yep’ I could see a little flash and it was like a little, I suppose, a splinter.
There were different shapes and dark black, lines of dark black and white lines together. Then that turned into splotches of black with white around them and cloud-like images. I can remember when the first bigger image came I just went 'Wow', because I just didn’t expect it at all but it was amazing."
The bionic eye has 24 electrodes with a small wire that goes from the back of the eye to a receptor behind the ear. "The device electrically stimulates the retina," said Dr Penny Allen, a specialist surgeon who implanted the prototype. "Electrical impulses are passed through the device, which then stimulate the retina. Those impulses then pass back to the brain, creating the image."
Earlier this year, a British team implanted a similar implant for the first time, and have already placed it in two other patients who are waiting for their devices to ‘bed in’ before they are switched on.