In the blink of a bionic eye

An Australian company will conduct a clinical trial of its retinal implant technology after securing £13.4m in overseas investment

Green eye

An Australian company is a step closer to commercialising its retinal implant technology.

Bionic Vision Technologies (BVT) has secured £13.4m in financing from the Hong Kong companies China Huarong International Holdings and State Path Capital.

The development brings hope of new treatment options for the 1.5 million people worldwide who have the inherited degenerative eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa.

BVT was previously funded through a five-year £30m research grant administered by the Australian Research Council.

The company will use the new funding to manufacture devices and begin a human clinical trial of its bionic eye implant in retinitis pigmentosa patients.

The trial will begin in Melbourne over the coming months. Patients will have a permanent device surgically implanted to wear in their everyday activities, with researchers monitoring their mobility and independence.

The retinal implant will be placed at the back of the eye where it stimulates the surviving nerve cells in the retina with electrical signals created from images collected by an externally worn camera.

A successful clinical trial using a prototype device has already been conducted with three patients. However, patients were only monitored in clinic during this trial.