Credit: gizmag

Australia officials have unveiled a prototype for a bionic eye device, which looks like a pair of sunglasses that could help regains the sight of the visually impaired.

The device consists of a minute video camera attached to a pair of dark glasses. The camera records images which will be transmitted wirelessly to an implant that will stimulate electrodes on the retina.

The stimulated retina will then be able to recognize points of light, which the brain will then be able to reconstruct into images, thus efficiently creating simulated vision, for people who suffer from macular degeneration or other genetic disorders.

The bionic eye prototype was created by researchers from the University of Melbourne and is being tested by individuals from the school, as well as the Bionic Ear Institute, the Center for Eye Research Australia, the NSW University and the National Information and Communications Technology Australia.

The project is funded by a $42 million contribution from the country's government.

I've never heard of anything quite as inspiring as this particular idea. I've never heard of it before, I'm quite free to admit, said the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The bionic eye project will keep Australia at the forefront of bionic research and commercialization and has the potential to restore sight to thousands of people in Australia and across the world, said Mr Rudd.

If it could work, it would be an outstanding contribution to our common humanity.

The bionic eye prototype is called the biggest advance for low-vision individuals to date since the invention of the Braille alphabet some two centuries ago, experts said.

It is currently undergoing tests, and the first actual human implant of the device is scheduled to occur in 2013.