Technology Developed to Provide Temporary Night Vision to Mammals

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Bhaswati Sarkar
Bhaswati Sarkar
She is a feminist pursuing a M.A. degree. She likes to lose herself in music and daydreams quite often. Travelling excites her and photography is her passion- nature is her favorite subject. Writing is cathartic for her. A happy-go-lucky kind of person, she tries to remain calm and serene through daily life.

It is known that the human eye can see only lights with wavelengths in the range of 400 and 700 nanometers among the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Have you ever wished to have a visionary capability beyond the human eye’s observable range? It seems like that wish might not be too good to be true anymore, now that temporary night vision eye injections have been developed.

Scientists from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University of Science and Technology of China have reportedly teamed up and developed technology that gives the ability of night vision to the mammal eye, allowing it to see beyond the visible spectrum and into the infrared region.

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The night vision eye drops consist of an injection containing a nano-antennae solution that incorporates “lectin protein-coupled nanoparticles,” which would steer the nano-antennae to the retinal photoreceptor and make it temporarily stable there. Rather than modifying the photoreceptor, the technology involves a tiny antenna that converts the near-infrared (NIR) light into visible green light observable by the retina. The resulting data would be interpreted as visible light by the brain.

We believe this research is a major advance in the field of biotechnology…This thought-provoking research should pave the way for a number of critical applications through the unique creation of mammalian near-infrared vision capabilities with high conversion potential. – Dr. Gang Han, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology at UMass Medical School

The research used mice, and scientists believe the same principles should theoretically apply to all mammals. A series of tests were created to verify the full capability of identifying NIR light by the tested-upon mice through the presence of an exceptionally low-power NIR LED lamp light to activate the nanoparticles.

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The scientists also discovered that the mice could acquire NIR pattern vision and differentiate between triangles, circles, and other relatively complex shapes, even in daylight conditions. This would indicate that the nanoparticles and conventional vision were working simultaneously.

With this research, we’ve broadly expanded the applications of our nanoparticle technology both in the lab and translationally…These nanoantennae will allow scientists to explore a number of intriguing questions, from how the brain interprets visual signals to helping treat color blindness.” He added, “Moreover, it is very likely that the sky may look very differently both at night and in daytime. We may have the capability to view all the hidden information from NIR and IR radiation in the universe which is invisible to our naked eyes. – Dr. Gang Han

It was observed that in the treated mice, the enhanced effects wore off in about a fortnight, and had no unfortunate side effects on the health or vision of the animals.

The details of the study have been published in the journal ‘Cell’. It is believed that the success of this research would open up new avenues to scientists for exploration of neural networks in the brain and assisting with vision repair.

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