Sunday, September 03, 2006.
SOME blind people are a step closer to having sight restored following a breakthrough by Australian researchers developing a "bionic eye".
Early tests by scientists at Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital have succeeded in stimulating limited visual sensation in people suffering a rare form of genetic blindness.
After almost five years of testing on animals, Prof Minas Coroneo said recent human trials had produced positive results using the same technology employed in cochlear hearing implants.
"We started with the tests earlier this year using quite a different approach to some other groups," he said.
"Instead of putting electrodes on the retina to try to stimulate the eye, we have actually been putting them on the outer wall of the eye, which we think gives us an advantage.
"What we've been able to show is that we seem to be able to get signals through to the brain by stimulating the eye in that way."
But Prof Coroneo warned against premature celebrations.
He said it would be probably five years until the devices were available.
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