PBS Professor Michael Beyeler Receives $1.5 Million Nih Grant To Develop Bionic Eye

October 4, 2022

Good vision is essential for everyday life, but approximately 12 million Americans aged 40 and over live with vision impairment, including 1 million who are legally blind, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although some affected individuals can be treated with surgery or medication, and recent advances in gene and stem cell therapies are showing promise, no effective treatments exist for many people who are blinded by severe degeneration of, or damage to, the retina, the optic nerve or the cortex. In such cases, an electronic visual prosthesis, or bionic eye, may be the only option. Michael Beyeler, Assistant Professor in Psychological and Brain Sciences and Computer Science departments at UCSB, aims to bring to the mainstream an AI-powered bionic eye that can generate artificial vision, in an effort to increase the quality of life for patients who are blind or visually impaired.

“I envision a smart bionic eye that could find misplaced keys on a counter, read out medication labels, inform a user about people’s gestures and facial expressions during social interactions, and warn a user of nearby obstacles and outline safe paths,” Michael said.

For his project, “Towards a Smart Bionic Eye: AI-Powered Artificial Vision for the Treatment of Incurable Blindness,” Beyeler has been selected for a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award. The five-year, $1.5 million grant was one of 103 awarded this week by the NIH to enable exceptionally creative early-career scientists to push the boundaries of biomedical science and pursue high-impact projects that aim to advance knowledge and enhance health. Congratulations, Michael!

See more info here: https://www.news.ucsb.edu/2022/020732/clear-vision