Your Eyeballs Can Now Be Injected With Night Vision

A US Army aviator uses a pair of helmet-mounted AN/AVS-6 vision goggles. PEO Soldier [public domain]/Wikimedia

It sounds like a backyard science project gone awry, but a group of biohackers based in California have successfully injected a specialized liquid solution that gave a volunteer night vision, reports Science.Mic.

The liquid used for the injection was Chlorin e6 (or Ce6), a chlorophyll analog found in some deep-sea fish that is known for having light-amplifying properties. It was dripped into volunteer biochemist Gabriel Licina's eyes using what was described as a "really fine turkey baster." The aim was to reach Licina's conjunctival sac, which could carry the chemical solution to the retina.

"To me, it was a quick, greenish-black blur across my vision, and then it dissolved into my eyes," explained Licina.

Terrified yet? The squirm-inducing procedure was a success, despite its bold methodology. After about an hour, Licina was directed out to a dark field to perform a series of performance experiments to test his new super-vision. According to an open source research document released by the group, Licina had enhanced vision out to a range of about 50 meters, and was able to identify distant figures with 100 percent accuracy. A control group could only identify the figures with 33 percent accuracy.

The effects of the solution lasted for "many hours" until Licina's vision returned to normal. The group, which calls itself "Science for the Masses," hopes that the research might eventually be developed to improve the vision of search-and-rescue teams, soldiers in the military, or even ordinary people with vision problems. Obviously more rigorous tests will need to be performed first, and the team might want to invent a new kind of delivery system for the Ce6 that doesn't sound like something that happens during an alien abduction.

"For us, it comes down to pursuing things that are doable but won't be pursued by major corporations," said the lab's medical officer, Jeffrey Tibbetts, about the group's overall mission. "There are rules to be followed and don't go crazy, but science isn't a mystical language that only a few elite people can speak."

Next on the agenda is to follow through on more rigorous experimentation so that the precise effects of the Ce6 on the eye can be identified. More tests must also be done to quantify exactly how much a subject's night vision can be improved using the procedure.

"Once you get the hard numbers, that's it," Licina said. "You take it and quantify it and write it down, and release it. ... This is how science works. It isn't flashy. But it makes it more accessible. It shows it can be done. If we can do it in our garage, other people can, too."