BY: DANIEL KORN
What single cyborg enhancement would you choose, given the option? I ask this because I’m a huge nerd. I’m also a firm believer in the fact that I’ll see cybernetic implants become common by the time I die—currently being proven by modern cyborgs like artist Neil Harbisson, who can “see” colour, and video game designer Zoe Quinn, who can transfer data and feel magnetic fields using two DIY implants in her left hand.
My answer to the question has always been to get me some bionic eyes. Aside from freeing me from my current glasses-dependent existence, I want eyes that can zoom in like a pair of binoculars, see on the infrared spectrum, and be able to visualize music like a synesthete.
We’re not quite there yet, but visual enhancement startup Ocumetics’ Bionic Lens could at least be a boon for us bespectacled folks.
According to Dr. Garth Webb, CEO of Ocumetics, the Bionic Lens will let patients see three times better than 20/20 vision, making glasses and contact lenses a thing of the past, like a beefed-up version of Lasik.
Based on how Webb explains it—supposedly if you have problems seeing a clock 10 feet away, the lenses will let you see it clearly from 30 feet—“better” seems to insinuate distance rather than fidelity. That’s pretty close to the binoculeyes I’m looking for.
The lenses will be surgically implanted using the same process as cataract surgery, wherein the natural lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial one. Assuming everything goes as planned, Bionic Lens surgery should be a common, safe, and painless procedure.
Unfortunately, the lenses have not yet been tested, though clinical trials on animals and then blind humans are planned for the future. Webb believes that the lenses could be available in about two years, and would cost $3,200 per eye.
If it works, the Bionic Lens could be great. That being said, it’s hard to judge how viable it is with the lack of details that have been released to the public. For one, Ocumetics’ website does not say what the Bionic Lens is made of, other than “inert biocompatible polymeric materials.” Because of that, the “bionic” part of the lens is a bit contentious. There’s also no testimony from ophthalmologists about whether they think the solution is feasible, other than a statement from Webb that some surgeons from Canada, the U.S., Australia and the Dominican Republic had been impressed by the technology and would be helping with the upcoming trials.