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Email from a Bioengineer

David Klinghoffer

234358923_aeb7026ec9_q.jpgI’ve written a couple of times now already (see here and here) on the so far unfulfilled bioengineering goal of designing a working bionic eye that would allow the blind to see as well as anyone else.
The subject interests me first because Darwinists make it a persistent theme of their evolutionary apologetics that the human eye, like other vertebrate eyes, is nothing so impressive. In fact, they claim, the incompetence of its “design” (the counterintuitive wiring, the virtually unnoticeable blind spot) serves as a powerful refutation of intelligent design. Richard Dawkins likes to say if an engineer gave him the plans for such an inept artifact, he would send the man away in disgust.
My other interest in this lies in my experience with my dad, who was virtually blind for the last decade or more of his life.
Now I’ve just received an email from Gregoire Cosendai, Vice President/Europe for Second Sight Medical Products in Switzerland.

I just saw your article on [the] bionic eye.
Interesting point of view especially considering we at Second Sight in Los Angeles did our first Bionic eye in Feb 19 2002, that its been in use since then.
Its marketed in Europe, people use it at home since 2004.Unlike with the Australian project; 78% of users get meaningful functional vision with our system. Majority can read letters one by one. One third can read small sentences, etc.
Attached is the Ophthalmology paper presenting one year data on the last 30 patients.

Regarding the difficulty of designing an eye, he goes on:

I definitely agree with you. Getting where we are took almost 20 years and further improvements will continue to come.
The point is that despite the fact that we cannot construct & replace the normal eye, we can restore a functional vision, which for blind people is meaningful.

Indeed. I’m happy to send anyone who likes the paper from the journal Opthamology that Dr. Cosendai refers to. Of course, my purpose was not to dismiss or minimize the impressive and important work that’s been done so far in seeking to restore sight to some blind patients. But as Cosendai recognizes, the results so far represent a bare minimum compared to normal vision.
Reading “letters one by one” is about what my dad could do at one point when he had already been “legally blind” for close to two decades. (After receiving that designation, he was still driving a car for a while!)
The point here is that far from being an example of bad design, the natural eye represents a fantastic expression of intelligent design that human designers are struggling bravely, brilliantly, but so far with only very partial success to match.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.