Biohacking could soon give night vision capabilities to human beings. A group of biohackers (people who do ‘Do It Yourself’ body enhancements) from the organization Science for the Masses in California, carried out an experiment. This temporarily gave a test subject night vision by using a solution made of the chemical Chlorin e6 (Ce6), dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO), and insulin which is injected directly into the eyeball. Ce6 is a substance which has light-amplification properties, and is found in some deep-sea fish, algae, and other plants. It is also being used in cancer treatment research. In humans, it helps with the treatment of tumors in the eyes making them more receptive to laser treatment. In some cases it has also been used in people with degenerative eye diseases to treat their night blindness.
A team of scientists injected the eyes of one volunteer with Ce6 giving him the ability, in almost total darkness, to see more than 164 feet (50 meters) for several hours. By combining Ce6 with saline and insulin, the team created a solution that has the ability to give a person night vision. Specifically, the substance was dripped into the conjunctival sacs, which transmitted the Ce6 to the subject’s retinas. The mixture of insulin and DMSO both help the eye absorb Ce6.
Though the group of independent researchers cautioned that they did not know if the eye drops are necessarily safe, especially in the long-term, research team member Gabriel Licina bravely volunteered for the biohacking experiment. The risk involved could cause cellular damage generated by anything that allows more light into the eyes. According to the Science for the Masses website, Gabriel Licina is a biochemical researcher with the group working on various projects within the fields of microbiology, mammalian cell biology, and material sciences. He has been given the tag ‘Grinder’, in reference to those willing to alter their bodies through various methods of biohacking in an effort to improve how they function.
Licina’s eyes were held open with a speculum so that the solution would be absorbed before it was blinked away. Then the lab’s medical officer, Jeffery Tibbetts, slowly dripped a small dose of the solution into Licina’s eyes. Initially turning Licin’a eyes black, the solution took only a few seconds to get absorbed before returning his eyes to their natural color. To protect against exposure to bright light the team quickly covered his eyes with black contact lenses and a pair of dark sunglasses. Reportedly, this experiment in biohacking could soon give night vision capabilities to human beings.
Within two hours Licina had fully adjusted to the night vision effect. The result lasted for many hours giving Licina and a control group of four other researchers to perform a series of vision tests in a dark field. The tests consisted of identifying shapes and forms in the dark, ability to identify moving people and objects at different distances and backgrounds, symbol recognition by distance, and symbol recognition on varying background colors at a static distance. Later they compared Licina’s success rate with the other volunteers who did not receive the chemical. Results show that within an hour, he was able to locate the shadowed figures with a 100 percent success rate, compared to his untreated colleagues who managed a rate of around 30 percent.
The following morning Licina’s vision had returned to normal and 20 days later no noticeable side effects of the biohacking experiment had occurred. Subjectively, the scientists reported that the night vision enhancing solution was a success. The team intends to perform more rigorous experiments with hopes of producing further proof that the Ce6 solution works. Imagine the possibilities that this breakthrough in biohacking which could soon give night vision capabilities to human beings will open-up. It would be a great help for people who have a hard time driving at night-time, or in critical situations where rescue teams and emergency crews working in dangerous environments need the ability to see at night.
By Ankur Sinha