Remember, Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

Stephen King

Humans have adapted to the vagaries of time and situations over the years, on the wings of hope. The rapidly enhanced scientific technology and education have also contributed immensely to the entirety of our health and well-being. It is phenomenal that there has been such a leap in the medical science that it has not only increased longevity, but also discovered cures for multiple ailments. A similar success story has come from Monash University in Victoria, Australia, offering a fresh lease of hope.

People who have lost their vision may be in for a happy news ahead as the researches based at Monash University, have successfully affirmed to have prepared a demonstration of their concept of bionic vision. The concept named “Gennaris” is a collaborative effort between the Monash Vision Group (MVG), Monash University, Alfred Health, MiniFAB, and Grey Innovation.

This innovative concept is unique in that it will have a significant edge over the existing technologies in ophthalmology, that have not yielded significant results. Patients who are afflicted with vision loss cannot regain it back because of “damaged optic nerves, which prevent signals being transmitted from the retina to the vision center of the brain”.

According to the Global Prevalence of Visual Impairment it is estimated that “285 million people in the world are visually impaired, 35 million have a complete loss of eyesight and 246 million have numerous problems, that are mainly related to low vision. With excellence in research-oriented programs, Monash University along with its partners, is hoping for a successful cure with Gennaris bionic vision. Gennaris comprises of a custom headgear with a camera and wireless transmitter, a vision processor unit and software, and a series of 9 x 9 mm tiles for implanting into the brain.

The scene captured by the video camera in the headgear will be sent to the vision processor – similar in size to a Smartphone. This technology enables Gennaris to extract the most useful information. The processed data will be transmitted wirelessly to complex circuitry within each implanted tile. It will be further processed and would convert data into a pattern of electrical pulses. The electrical pulses stimulate the brain via the microelectrode array. This stimulation will create a visual pattern from combinations of up to 473 spots of light (Phosphenes) which should provide enough information for the user to navigate indoor and outdoor environments, and recognize the presence of people and objects around them.

If successful, it will be overwhelming for the people who have lost their vision and are yearning to look at the bright beautiful world with their own eyes. Gennaris will have an enormous impact on people, paving the way for complete restoration of their vision. This feat has been achieved with multiple collaborations and an abundant financial donation from several quarters. This path-breaking research began with an injection of $ 35 million by the Federal Government BioMedTech Horizons program which supports the commercialization of health innovations in Australia. 

Human minds are creative, and this is ample proof that given the right resources, logistics, and a working environment, great feats can be achieved that have an ability to create a permanent positive impact on individual life. The success of this research will be a bright ray of hope for people with visual disabilities. An example of sheer ingenuity, dedication, and the motivation to make an actual difference in the lives of people, this could be just the research that fills many lives with joy, hope and happiness and would literally lead people from darkness unto light.

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