I can see clearly now
Who will win the race to restore human sight?
In a landmark moment for medical science, both Neuralink and Science Corp appear to be on the cusp of restoring human sight. With both organizations beginning clinical trials in the next quarter, the race is on to be the first to take a sight restoration device to market. Pundits believe the stakes to be high and the first company to succeed will undoubtedly capture the majority share of a market expected to top US$10 billion by 2032.
Neuralink, the brainchild of tech visionary Elon Musk, has been making headlines recently with its cutting-edge brain-computer interface technology. Neuralink’s device is expected to build on this technology, bypassing damaged photoreceptors and broadcasting the electrical signals directly to the brain. In Musk’s words, “You see with your brain, not your eyes.”
In contrast, Science Corp’s device, Science Eye, modifies the retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) to become photoreceptive, effectively teaching them to translate light signals into electrical impulses, which travel via the optic nerve to the brain. This is far more effective than retinal prosthetics, or electrode arrays implanted in the retina, which directly stimulate surviving neurons.
Investors and medical professionals alike are eagerly watching the progress of the clinical trials. Elizabeth Wang, a leading ophthalmologist at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, commented: “This technology has the potential to change millions of lives and the first company to bring it into the mainstream arena will have a huge advantage.”
While both Neuralink and Science Corp are racing to be the first, the ultimate goal is restoring sight for as many people as possible. The World Health Organization estimates that over 2.2 billion people worldwide suffer from visual impairments, with almost half of those being preventable or treatable.
The successful launch of this technology could be a game-changer in the field of ophthalmology and the world is watching – so to speak – to see who the pioneer in the field will be.
Warning: Hazardous thinking at work
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