People with serious vision problems may soon have to suffer no more, thanks to a new type of technology that could restore sight, even to blind people.
According to Nano-Retina, which manufactures the Bio-Retina device, it works by being implanted into the eye under local anaesthetic, and can offer people black-and-white vision.
Studies have suggested that the implant can allow users to watch TV and identify faces, and is specifically targeted at people who suffer from conditions including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma – three leading causes of vision loss around the world.
The manufacturer told the Daily Mail that Bio-Retina incorporates various nano-size components in one tiny, flat implant, approximately the size of a child's fingernail.
"Its simple 30-minute implant procedure requires local anaesthesia, a small incision and 'gluing' of the device to the damaged retina. Return of sight is anticipated to be instantaneous. Recovery time is estimated at up to one week," the company states.
Although there are certain implants on sale and in use in the UK and elsewhere, most of these require bulky computer glasses, and surgical procedures to be carried out under general anaesthetic.
"Current systems being researched require general anaesthesia and a six-hour operation to implant surgically, construct and connect multiple pieces of hardware in the eye or, alternatively, to insert surgically an implant into the eye, which is connected to a wire passing through the patient's skull," Nano-Retina explains.
Many people even wear glasses with an external camera and transmitter as well as a belt with a video processor and battery that charges the system, but this is not the case with the new implant.
The manufacturer revealed that a prototype of Bio-Retina was created in 2011.