A History of Visual Prosthetics

  • Artificial lenses are first used for vision correction in eyeglasses. They focus light onto the retina, correct astigmatism and increase the focusing power of people with cataracts.


  • Bives Willes creates the metal eye prosthesis, commonly used until 1960 when research shows harmful effects resulting from corrosion of the metal.


  • The United States boycotts replacement eyes made by German glassblowers during World War II, prompting alternative materials to be developed.


  • Acrylic resin is developed as a basis for the next generation of artificial eyes. Acrylic resin eyes are lightweight, easily made to fit, and durable.


  • Howard Ridley develops intraocular lenses (IOLs) by inserting a plastic lens after removing a natural lens with cataracts. IOLs replace, rather than assist, the damaged eye lens.


  • Brindley and Lewin successfully create the perception of vision by stimulating the visual cortex of a human in a controlled manner. Radio signals are used to turn on electrodes implanted into a blind patient’s brain.They find that stimulating a single electrode enables the blind person to ‘see’ a spot of white light, called a phosphene.


  • Lithium ion batteries are among the advances in portable power source research when scientists develop artificial organs that are connected to large machines outside the body. Their slow discharge rates and light weight revolutionize the prosthetics industry.


  • Keratoprostheses (Kpros) are commonly used to restore vision. The most commonly used Kpro is the AlphaCor.


  • Practical application of bmis to other prosthetics is advanced considerably by John Donoghue. bmis are used to enable stroke victims and other disabled people with fully functioning cognitive abilities to control robotic prosthetic limbs using signals from their cortex.


  • John Rogers' research team develops a one-dimensional, stretchable form of single-crystal silicon. The silicon is capable of being stretched and returned to its original form repeatedly.


  • Researchers continue to use small circular white phosphenes in cortex stimulation to produce very imprecise images relative to normal human vision.

    NIBEye prototype developed by high school development team for Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision competition.


  • The rate of blindness doubles as projected by The American Academy of Ophthalmology.


  • The NIBEye is manufactured on a large scale, achieving worldwide availability and giving over 40 million people functional vision.


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