Science

Biohackers develop night vision eye drops to see in the dark

Biohackers develop night visio...
Biohacking group Science for the Masses has been experimenting with night vision eye drops (Photo: Science for the Masses)
Biohacking group Science for the Masses has been experimenting with night vision eye drops (Photo: Science for the Masses)
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Biohacking group Science for the Masses has been experimenting with night vision eye drops (Photo: Science for the Masses)
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Biohacking group Science for the Masses has been experimenting with night vision eye drops (Photo: Science for the Masses)
The solution uses Chlorin e6, a chemical found in some deep water fish (Photo: Science for the Masses)
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The solution uses Chlorin e6, a chemical found in some deep water fish (Photo: Science for the Masses)

It sounds like something from a science-fiction movie, but a biohacking group in California has managed to develop eye drops that temporarily give a human being excellent night vision. The chemicals used are still very much at the experimental stage – this isn't something you'd want to try at home just yet – but the first trial has been a successful one.

The main ingredient in the eye drop solution is Chlorin e6. It's found in certain deep sea fish, enabling them to find their way around underwater, and it's also been used to treat humans with poor night vision. Essentially, it creates a microscopic chemical reaction that amplifies low light sources as they pass through.

By combining Ce6 with insulin in a saline solution, the Science for the Masses group was able to create a mixture that gave excellent night vision for several hours. The solution was dropped into the the conjunctival sac between the eyeball and eyelid, where it could be absorbed into the retina. The initial black color disappeared after a few seconds according to the researchers.

The members of Science for the Masses ran through several tests using different distances and backgrounds, though the main volunteer Gabriel Licina was forced to wear sunglasses indoors to counter the effects of the interior lighting. Licina was able to recognize people up to 50 m (164 ft) away in a wooded area, even in total darkness.

The solution uses Chlorin e6, a chemical found in some deep water fish (Photo: Science for the Masses)
The solution uses Chlorin e6, a chemical found in some deep water fish (Photo: Science for the Masses)

"The Ce6 subject consistently recognized symbols that did not seem to be visible to the controls," the team explains in the full report. "The Ce6 subject identified the distant figures 100 percent of the time, with the controls showing a 33 percent identification rate."

That's quite a difference, though the organization says it's fully aware this is a one-off experiment and plenty more research will be required to ascertain the safety and suitability of this particular biohack. By the morning, the Ce6 subject's eyes had returned to normal, and no ill effects have been reported 20 days later.

The team says the next stage is to use a Ganzfeld stimulator and an electroretinograph, devices which can be combined to accurately measure the level of electrical stimulation and activity in the eye. This will give Science for the Masses more data to play with and more evidence that their Ce6 solution is working as it should (and working safely).

Science for the Masses is made up of professionals in the research, technical design, and healthcare industries, and like the members of several other biohacking groups they devote their spare time to testing the limits of the human body. The idea of using science to extend the capabilities of human beings doesn't sit well with everyone, but the rise of these types of projects and high-tech wearables means it's an issue we're going to have to deal with in the near future.

Source: Science for the Masses via Geek

10 comments
Ryan Gibbons
Awesome. Protecting the eye from damaging light would be another beneficial treatment to research, like sunglasses eye drops. I wonder what other applications there are for this?
JPAR
Couldn't the same chemical reaction take place in a pair of goggles/spectacles and avoid the need to put directly onto the eye? (sort of a disposable one-off pair of night visions glasses?)
Stephen N Russell
subject has to wear sunglasses & tinted contacts for normal light alas.
Dave Dollman
Jack: Where the hell can I get eyes like that? Riddick: Gotta kill a few people. Jack: 'Kay, I can do it. Riddick: Then you got to get sent to a slam, where they tell you you'll never see daylight again. You dig up a doctor, and you pay him 20 menthol Kools to do a surgical shine job on your eyeballs. Jack: So you can see who's sneaking up on you in the dark? Riddick: Exactly.
Elmer Neutzling
WOW ..... Future is coming SOOOOOOOooooo Fast!
Dan Parker
JPAR- Good idea, but making the glasses rechargeable rather than disposable would be even better.
Andrew Zuckerman
Otc ready?
Nirmal Walunzkar
As it increases the Night Vision which means it stimulates the Eye to gather more light ... But what If a Sudden Flash of Light comes ahead of the eyes .. Or what if the effect of the drops stay even during the day time ... Won't the person suffer Vision Problems due to it?
windykites
Maybe this stuff just dilates the pupils. A safer idea is just to use night vision goggles or an attachment for smartphones Who really needs to see in the dark?
JulieTurek
This would be a fabulous product for those of us with poor night vision due to past eye surgeries. I had what was known as RK surgery, and now I can't drive at night due to poor vision. THIS NEEDS TO BE MADE!