This glossary explains some of the words, phrases and acronyms used on this website and in Bionic Vision Australia material.

Age-related macular degeneration Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye condition common among people aged 50 and older. It is the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. It gradually destroys the photoreceptor cells in the macula, the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision needed for seeing detail.

ARC Australian Research Council

CERA Centre for Eye Research Australia

choroid The choroid is a layer of blood vessels between the retina and sclera; it supplies blood to the retina.

electrodes An electrode is a conductor that passes electrical current between a metallic and non-metallic part of a circuit. Electrodes are often used in medical bionics for stimulating and recording physiological functions.  In the bionic eye an array of electrodes will stimulate cells in the retina so visual information can be sent to the optic nerve.

bionics The word 'bionic' is a combination of the words 'biology' and 'electronic.' Medical bionics is a field of science that combines engineering, biology and medicine, and seeks to replace lost physiological functions using electronics and engineering.

epiretinal placement Epiretinal placement refers to surgically implanting a device that will sit on top of the retina, and stimulate nerve cells. This is one of the placement areas that BVA researchers are investigating.

High-Acuity device The High-Acuity device is one of the two types of bionic vision BVA is developing. The first High-Acuity prototype will have 256 electrodes but can go up to at least 1024. We aim to provide useful central vision to the patient and hope it will give people enough vision to be able to read large print and recognise faces. This device will be particularly useful for people with age-related macular degeneration. 

NICTA National Information and Communication Technology Australia

NHMRC National Health and Medical Research Council

ophthalmology Ophthalmology is a medical specialisation that deals with the eye and injuries and diseases that affect the eye. Ophthalmologists are eye specialists who perform surgical and other medical procedures on the eye.

optometry Optometry is a field of healthcare that deals with vision and eye health. Optometrists are healthcare specialists who can assess and test the eyes and vision and diagnose and manage visual diseases, disorders and injuries.

phosphenes A phosphene is a perceived spot of light in the visual field. The bionic eye we are developing aims to stimulate enough phosphenes across the visual field to enable people to put together a picture of what they are looking at.

photoreceptor cells Photoreceptor cells are a specialised type of cell found in the retina that can convert light into signals that can be interpreted by the brain. They are critical to sight and their damage or deterioration can lead to sight loss.

psychophysics Psychophysics is a scientific discipline that studies the relationships between physical stimuli in the environment and the body's sensory responses. Psychophysicists are contributing to bionic eye research by studying the body's reactions to the stimulation provided by the bionic eye implant.

retina The retina is the light sensitive inner lining of the eye that is crucial to vision. It has a number of different layers that contain different kinds of cells and perform different functions. Conditions that damage the cells in the retina can lead to vision loss and blindness.

retinitis pigmentosa Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an eye condition that leads to vision impairment and blindness. It is characterised by the loss of the cells in the retina that process light (photoreceptor cells). It is an inherited condition that often emerges in early adulthood.

RVEEH Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital

sclera The sclera is the white, tough wall of the eye. It along with internal fluid pressure keeps the eyes shape and protects its delicate internal parts.

suprachoroidal space The suprachoroidal space is a small pocket behind the retina of the eye, between the choroid and the sclera. This is one of the placement areas that BVA researchers are investigating.

Wide–View device The 'Wide-View device' is one of the two kinds of bionic vision we are developing. It will have 98 electrodes that will provide some sense of vision to recipients, and hopefully enable them to identify and move around large objects.  At the moment this device is aimed at people with retinitis pigmentosa.

UNSW University of New South Wales

NVRI National Vision Research Institute

optic nerve The optic nerve transmits visual information in the form of electrical impulses from the retina to the brain.

visual cortex The visual cortex is an area at the back of the brain responsible for processing visual information. The bionic eye will send information to the visual cortex via the optic nerve where it can then be interpreted to provide people with a sense of vision.