We may now live in a world where heart cells that beat on their own are being created in labs and little boys are being fitted with bionic arms that look like those of Iron Man, but the latest foray into biotech is particularly ambitious: fully-functional synthetic eyeballs.
Though eyes are such incredibly complex and sensitive organs that Darwin once described them as "absurd", Italian startup MHOX believes it can synthesize versions that would not only correct the eyesight of those with bad vision but augment it beyond normal human standards.
"Latest developments in bioprinting and biohacking let us imagine that in the near future it would be possible to easily print organic, functional body parts, allowing the human to replace defected districts or enhance standard performance," lead designer Filippo Nassetti told Dezeen.
The Enhance Your Eye (EYE) range would be made using 3D bioprinters which drops different cells into the appropriate position using special needles and have already successfully been employed to create ears, kidneys, blood vessels and more.
The three types of synthetic EYE:
Heal - A basic option that would serve as a replacement for patients who have suffered diseases or traumas related to their eyes.
Enhance - This eye would boost vision up to 15/20 and enable colour filters (turned on and off using pills), in case you've always wanted to see the world like a 1950s camera.
Advance - This frighteningly futuristic organ would come with additional glands at the back for capturing and recording what the person is seeing, being able to connect to Wi-Fi to share the resultant images/videos.
The EYE designers believe the products will be ready to hit the market by 2027, though unsurprisingly given the ambitiousness of the plan there is a long way to go before synthetic eyes are a reality.
3D bioprinting may be advancing at an incredible pace but an eye is a lot more intricate than a kidney. There is also a danger of biohackers becoming complacent - just ask the guy who's about to have his head transplanted.
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