Bionic Eyes : Science Fiction Has Become Fact


Bionic eyes— also referred to as cybernetic eyes— are closer than you think! 

While I was researching this post, I tweeted a quick poll. Even with a disappointingly small sample size, my results were unanimous.


If you could only keep one of your five senses, which one would you choose?

To put it another way, which is your favorite of the five senses? Which sense would you want enhanced? 

SIGHT! Let’s take a look at that! And look at cybernetic eyes!

Most important sense : a poll
Unanimous decision
People polled: Favorite sense is sight
0 %


Throughout history, in art, culture, music, (ironic since music is a hearing-based discipline) eyes were considered a precious gift. Eyes unveil the world to our consciousness. Others read our eyes to see our thoughts. 

Ancient cultures used eyes in art. From amulets for protection to giving the evil eye with a curse, to decoration, the eyes had everyone’s attention.

Eyes by Louise Bourgeois
courtesy Met Museum

I thought that, ‘eyes are the window of the soul’ was written by Shakespeare, but it’s not! It’s considered a traditional proverb.

Chagall Windows Art Institute of Chicago
Chagall Windows at the Art Institute of Chicago. Worth the trip!


It’s no wonder that everyone who voted, choose vision. Sight is a human’s dominant sense. In fact, studies show that our brains acquire more than 80% of information about our surroundings via our eyes. 

The eye is a complicated organ. It takes a stimulus, light, which is made of electromagnetic waves that travel at 186,000 miles per second (FAST), and converts the light to usable information in our brains. 

The visible spectrum of light is quite narrow too. For more about the light spectrum and a chart, read here.


In the Harry Potter series, a wizard named Mad Eye Mooney lost one eye when battling death eaters, and was given a prosthetic eye. His eye could swivel around like a chameleon, see through walls and even invisibility cloaks. (For more on the magic of invisibility, I have a post here!)

Prosthetic Eye Mad Eye Moody
I think wizards could do a better job with the aesthetics..

What about replacing an eye, for real, not in an imaginary land of wizards?


Cybernetic eye Susan Berk Koch
The cyber tech is closer than you think!


The idea of artificial vision began over two centuries ago in 1752 with the writings of Benjamin Franklin, who postulated to the Royal Society of London that sight and hearing could be restored with the use of electricity.

Franklin seemed quite preoccupied with electricity.

Lightning and electricity and eyes
Gorgeous lightning
Ben Franklin flying his kite in a lightning storm

In case you’re wondering, Franklin ‘flying a kite with a key in a lightning storm‘ is a myth. This STEM experiment works perfectly to conduct electricity, but the current produced would have killed him. (mythbusters episode if you want to take a gander)


The idea caught on.

Perhaps after reading Benjamin Franklin’s theory, a French scientist named Charles Leroy decided to investigate. In 1755, he strapped some poor guy up with wires and and zapped him with electricity. The blind volunteer reported seeing ‘visual disturbances.’ 

I just find it disturbing!


Blind person with wire around his head to stimulate sight
Annu. Rev. Biomed. Eng. 2007. 9:527-565 doi: 10.1146/annurev.bioeng.9.061206.133100 Noninvasive Human Brain Stimulation Wagner, Valero-Cabre, and Pascual-Leone


Flash forward (intentional pun) to 1970. 

Blind people were implanted with electrical stimulators. Subjects did see flashes of light!

But the brain could not interpret the signals.  Their hair started on fire. It was a valiant attempt but this tech was in its infancy.

Electronic retinal implants
Early attempts at restoring vision


It would be so cool if  implants looked like this AND functioned.

This is what I envision for the aesthetics of a cybernetic eye!

Occular implant science fiction
Still science fiction

Eye prosthetics have come a long way! 3-D printing is making some realistic replacements, down to the intricate blood vessels.


They are for aesthetics only, with no function. They are considered a replacement for when someone has lost an eye due to disease, trauma, or disfigurement.


These replacements are not cybernetic eyes (bionic eyes).


Prosthetic eye, not science fiction


Here’s a quick synopsis of the eye and how it works. It sounds like magic!

eye anatomy author website
Anatomy of a human eye

With so many visually impaired people, researchers continue their work to cure blindness! 

In 2011, the number of visually impaired people is ~ 285 million. 39 million are blind. (ouch)

We can replace livers, lungs, and hearts. Remove cataracts and replace them with new lenses. But what about an entire eye?


The only commercially available and approved bionic /cybernetic eyes –in actuality– are retinal implants. That term doesn’t sound as cool but it IS cool! 

In brief below…

Argus® II bionic eye
Developed to restore vision lost due to the lack of sensitivity of photoreceptors to light rays.
An eyeglass mounted camera and an implanted retinal stimulator
This implant has been nicknamed 'bionic eye'
Previous slide
Next slide
No camera needed. Uses a wireless chip.
Directly senses intra ocular light. Converts it to electrical energy using an amplifier and contrast unit
Not yet approved for commercial use
The implant includes a handheld component about the size of a cellphone
© 2017 Stingl, Schippert, Bartz-Schmidt, Besch, Cottriall, Edwards, Gekeler, Greppmaier, Kiel, Koitschev, Kühlewein, MacLaren, Ramsden, Roider, Rothermel, Sachs, Schröder, Tode, Troelenberg and Zrenner.
Further reading
Previous slide
Next slide

Bionic eye implants seem ideal for individuals who aren’t congenitally blind but sustained severe vision loss due to degenerative diseases.

The patient sees flashes of light, but their brain must still learn to decipher their meaning ‒ a process that could take approximately six months.


Bionic Eyes : Science Fiction Will Become Fact
This looks cooler but fact follows fiction

Restoring sight by feeding signals directly to the brain is ambitious.  We have pacemakers to regulate our hearts and cochlear implants (since 1961!) for hearing. Why not our dominant sense?

Am I sensationalizing this? If you’re vision impaired, nope. Is a bionic eye without cameras or glasses beyond our reach?

One of the difficulties fabricating a hands-free prosthetic eye–as opposed to a retinal implant–is the shape of the retina.

New research is aimed to change that. Scientists used a curved, aluminum oxide membrane embedded with nanosized sensors made of perovskite.  


Pervoskite structure
Molecule of pervoskite

Pervoskite is a material with a 3-D crystal structure that surrounds an ion with light absorbing properties. Different ions could be interspersed between the crystals to absorb different wavelengths of light.

This material has practical applications in solar cells, lasers, high-temperature superconductivity. Pervoskite is now synthesized in labs, but it is an actual mineral that was discovered in 1839. 

I’m cheering them on! 

Meanwhile, the above retinal implants jack into the brain and do provide rudimentary vision. It’s a start!  

Maybe someday soon, the vision-impaired will have bionic eyes aka cybernetic eyes that enable them to see color and smell the flowers, or watch a lovely sunset while listening to the waves. And taste chocolate with their eyes first


Bionic/cybernetic eyes are out there! This amazing tech could change the lives of millions of visually-impaired people all over the world!


Would you be willing to wear weird glasses or carry a battery-pack to restore your vision?  


I do the research so you don't have to. Subscribe!


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July 23, 2020 10:24 am

Very interesting ! Herb has macular so this subject had me very curious to learn more. Thx!! Love ur blogs!!

Amy Laundrie
July 23, 2020 10:44 am

Fascinating blog, as usual. I would definitely be willing to carry a battery pack or wear weird glasses if it meant having eyesight.

Marshall M
Marshall M
July 23, 2020 11:36 am

Great blog, really the information was great

July 23, 2020 12:05 pm

This was a massively Interesting read, really great on a subject I’ve never even thought about, thanks for sharing!

Diffusing the Tension
Diffusing the Tension
July 23, 2020 1:32 pm

I think sight would be my answer too! Losing hearing would be hard, but at least then I could SEE my babies. Never seeing their faces again pains me. Thanks for another interesting article!

J | thenellybean
J | thenellybean
July 23, 2020 3:10 pm

This is such a cool post idea, bionic eyes are exactly what I need with my short-sightedness!

July 23, 2020 7:40 pm

Wow! This is such a cool and informative post! I didn’t know bionic eyes were really becoming a thing. I think I need some seeing as how my vision worsens every year when I go to the eye doctor lol

Eva Apelqvist
Eva Apelqvist
July 23, 2020 8:27 pm

Not only well researched, as always, but full of fun facts, which makes your blog posts a great read!

Lisa's Notebook
July 24, 2020 4:56 am

Wow, another fact-filled and fun post – I’ve learned so much about eyes that I didn’t know! Sight is the one sense I’d really hate to lose, I can’t imagine not being able to see my world and appreciate my surroundings. Fab post, Sue, thank you! Lisa

Kelly Diane
July 24, 2020 10:54 am

This was a really interesting post. I’ve learnt so much more about eyes than I ever thought possible.

July 24, 2020 12:11 pm

Very informative post! I’m learning more about science with your blog. More often we take for granted our eyesight and as of this time its not that easy to replace. We should take care of it more, see an eye doctor to make sure our eyes don’t get so much stress which leads to damage.

July 24, 2020 1:26 pm

Really fascinating read, it certainly would be cool if they eventually do come up with a fully working bionic eye.

July 24, 2020 3:51 pm

Fascinating! As I’ve started to need reading glasses for more and more things I’m more conscious of and appreciative of sight all the time! And apparently not alone there as your vote shows! Thanks for another informative, fascinating article!

July 24, 2020 5:02 pm

This is very interesting! I love it 😻

July 24, 2020 5:30 pm

This is so interesting! Learnt some things I never would have done elsewhere too!

July 24, 2020 5:40 pm

I have terrible eyesight first thing I reach for when I wake are my glasses. But losing my sight completely would be hell. Interesting blog x

Nishtha Pande
July 25, 2020 4:01 am

Very interesting blog! Very detailed and still easy to understand.

Unwanted Life
July 25, 2020 6:00 am

The future is almost here

July 25, 2020 6:08 am

I’m very interested to see if bionic eyes will be the first to revolutionize how we view our own eyes or the eyeballs we can harvest from human-animal hybrids. Either way, both seem like really good options and interesting topics.

Chris - CJ Attractions Guide
July 25, 2020 6:30 am

It’s something we take for granted every day but when you think about its such am amazing thing! Thanks for sharing 😊

The busy shelf
The busy shelf
July 25, 2020 7:00 am

This was a fascinating post! So good to have this much information put together. To be honest, I think everyone would be glad to wear anything if it could give them back any of their senses. Vision is the obviously considered the most valuable one… that is until, God forbid, we lose any of the others. I’m so glad we have scientists working not only on bionic eyes but also bionic arms, legs, systems to support body weight for those with spinal injuries… technology is amazing!

July 25, 2020 8:31 am

There was so much to discover here, thanks for sharing! I am fascinated by the idea of ‘cyborgs’ and technological enhancements for the human body, so it was interesting to dive into some of the history and context of this 🙂

Amber Page
Amber Page
July 25, 2020 9:03 am

This is such an informative post a really interesting read!

Amber – The Unpredicted Page

July 25, 2020 10:04 am

This was an interesting post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Lauren |

July 25, 2020 10:51 am

Very intriguing post and I learnt some new knowledge, thank you for sharing 😁

Natasha Evans
Natasha Evans
July 26, 2020 8:54 am

Really fascinating post! I would definitely carry a battery pack around with me if it meant I had vision again!

Tash // A Girl with a View

July 27, 2020 11:54 am

Very interesting topic, thanks for the post!

July 27, 2020 12:15 pm

Great post! Thank you for sharing! This is very interesting!

July 27, 2020 2:48 pm

Modern medicine is so amazing ! Thank you for always sharing interesting information ! I’m lucky enough to not have any eyesight problems but If I did, it’s reassuring to know so many cool advancements are beginning to happen !

July 28, 2020 8:54 am

Great post. So much interesting things I read today. Thank you for sharing.

SM's Mind Voice
July 30, 2020 3:45 am

OH that’s a future ready post. And, BTW, sight happens to be my favourite sense too

Retirestyle Travel
Retirestyle Travel
July 30, 2020 2:48 pm

I hope this becomes a reality soon. Great scientific information.

Javier S./Javibuckets
August 4, 2020 10:55 am

Great post. I learned something new today and it was very interesting!!! Eyesight is important in my opinion!! 💯💯

Sara James
November 1, 2020 12:12 am

I loved your style of writing, it’s not just informative but interesting to read. I was hoping for a device like the visor, which that visual impaired character used to wear in the Star Trek TV series. The diagrams and simple illustrations eased the information and helped the readers getting the idea. Great invention of 21st century. People must also be interested in its cost. Glad to know about it. Amazing article.👏

November 5, 2021 8:30 am

Hi Susan. I really enjoyed this blog post and will be sharing it with some friends with vision issues. As always, you give such clarity (pardon the pun!) to complicated science topics! Well done!

Tanzania Safaris
February 8, 2022 12:54 pm

Very very nice post, Thank you for sharing such a fantastic information.

IT Infrastructure Setup
IT Infrastructure Setup
December 4, 2022 9:05 pm

The information shared is extremely helpful! Thank you for sharing!

Susan Berk Koch author

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