A group of scientists in California have successfully created eye drops that temporarily enable night vision, according the London-based newspaper, The Independent.
Science for the Masses, an independent “citizen science” organization, theorized that Chlorin e6 (Ce6), a natural molecule that can be created from algae and other green plants, could enhance eyesight in dark environments.
The molecule is found in some deep sea fish, forms the basis of some cancer therapies and has been previously prescribed intravenously for night blindness.
The average torch will allow you to see around 10 meters ahead of you
Jeff Tibbets, the lab’s medical officer, told The Independent: “There are a fair amount of papers talking about having injected it in models like rats and it’s been used intravenously since the 1960s as treatments for different cancers. After doing the research, you have to take the next step.”
The next step was to moisten the eyes of biochemical researcher and willing human guinea pig Gabriel Licina’s eyes with 50 microlitres of Ce6, according to the report.
The effect was apparently almost instantaneous and, after an hour, he was able to distinguish shapes from 10 meters away in the dark and soon at even greater distances.
“We had people go stand in the woods,” Licina said, “At 50 meters, I could figure who they were, even if they were standing up against a tree.”
The control group without Ce6 were only able to pick out the objects a third of the time, while Licina’s success was 100%.
The effect of the chemical only lasted for a few hours and the test subject's eyesight returned to normal the next day, according to the report..
The organization has released a paper that detailed the experiment on their website. It says that more research will need to be conducted to measure the actual amount of electrical stimulation increase in the eye whilst the long term effects of the procedure will require further investigation.