Technologies such as the Second Sight eye prosthesis can bring back basic vision to some blind people. However, the results are difficult to imagine for those not using such systems. Researchers at the University ofWashington wanted to find out what it’s really like to see using a bionic eye, so they performed a number of simulations to allow researchers, as well as patients and their families, to know what they’re getting into.

The team simulated what vision electrical prostheses, such as Second Sight, as well as optogenetic technologies, and small molecule photo switches will generate for their users.The investigators took into consideration various neurophysiology that may distort vision, building in how these parameters affect vision into the simulator. What they discovered is that the resulting vision possible with current technologies may be rather disappointing to potential users and that the commonly used “scoreboard test” for replicating restored vision can be very misleading.

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