Many people think of night vision gear as cutting edge technology, and they wouldn’t be wrong. As evidenced by their exorbitant price, night vision scopes and goggles are highly sophisticated pieces of technology. Yet scientists are already looking into the next best thing: injecting temporary night vision directly into your eyes. Is it possible? Well, a research group called Science for the Masses has already done it by injecting a chemical called Chlorin e6 (Ce6) into human retinas. Ce6 is commonly used to treat cancer and night blindness in humans, and is occasionally found in some deep-sea fish. According to the researchers, it can also be used to improve dim light vision for several hours. Gabriel Licina, a biochem scientist on the team, volunteered to be a test subject.
Ce6 by itself is a sticky black powder, so the team had to mix it with insulin and other materials. Once a liquid, the Ce6 solution was applied directly to the conjunctival sac in the eye and was absorbed by the retina. Licina and other test subjects were given sunglasses to further reduce light conditions.
— Mic (@micnews) March 26, 2015
“The Ce6 solution has been shown to work in as little as one hour, with the effects lasting for ‘many hours’ afterwards. After 2 hours of adjustment, the subject and 4 controls were taken to a darkened area and subjected to testing,” the researchers wrote in their report. “Three forms of subjective testing were performed. These consisted of symbol recognition by distance, symbol recognition on varying background colors at a static distance, and the ability to identify moving subjects in a varied background at varied distances.”
The test was a success. Licina could make out dark shapes placed 10 meters away, and later at a distance of 25 to 50 meters. Although it may not be as effective as current night vision technology, researchers said the Ce6 injection had increased the participants’ ability to see in low light conditions.
“The other test, we had people go stand in the woods,” Licina told Mic.com. “At 50 meters, we could figure out where they were, even if they were standing up against a tree.”
Without the injection, the test group stumbled around in the woods and had difficulty finding the hidden volunteers. The “night vision” afforded by the Ce6 solution lasted only for a few hours though, and was gone by the next day. The group said that 20 days after the intial testing, no side effects have surfaced.
What kind of applications exist for this kind of body-modifying technology? The military will probably want to test it, as well as a number of other industries. Imagine if on your next camping trip (or coyote hunt), you could place two drops of this solution in your eyes and be able to see at night. Do you think this could be the future of night hunting? Would it be ethical? Let us know your thoughts below.
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