For those seeking good night vision, carrots and glasses with yellow lenses just got bumped out of the running by a technology that takes night goggles straight to your eyeballs. A group of biohackers in Tehachapi, CA, Science for the Masses, used a chlorophyll analog found in some deep-sea fish call Chlorin e6/Ce6 to enhance healthy vision to night vision that allows sight for more than 50 meters in the dark.
The material had been used as a cancer treatment and a treatment for night blindness. According to a paper “A Review on Night Enahncement Eyedrops Using Chlorin e6” by Gabriel Licina and Jeffrey Tibbetts:
“In 2012 a patent was filed based in some part on the work of Washington et al. The patent claims that a mixture can be made which, when applied to the eye, will absorb to the retina and act to increase vision in low light. The mixture put forth in the patent is a simple combination of Ce6 and insulin in saline. It is mentioned in the same, that dimethlysulfoxide (DMSO) can be used in place of the insulin. We propose a combination of the two could lead to the most noted effects. For testing purposes, the mixture from the patent (Ce6, Saline, Insulin) was used with the addition of DMSO for increased permeability.”
In an article at Science.Mic, part of the blog mic.com author Max Plenke interviewed the lab’s medical officer Jeffrey Tibbetts.
“Going off that research, we thought this would be something to move ahead with,” the lab’s medical officer, Jeffrey Tibbetts, told Mic. “There are a fair amount of papers talking about having it injected in models like rats, and it’s been used intravenously since the ’60s as a treatment for different cancers. After doing the research, you have to take the next step.”
The experiment involved the application of drops and observations of its effects. After two hours the test subject and four control subjects went into the dark to identify individuals 25 to 50 meters away.
“The Ce6 subject consistently recognized symbols that did not seem to be visible to the controls. The Ce6 subject identified the distant figures 100% of the time, with the controls showing a 33% identification rate.”
After the testing, the subject wore black sunglasses until sleep and has reported no noticeable effects afterward.
Science for the Masses is a research group created “to aid in the development of ‘citizen science’ so this might not be something coming to market any time soon, but it opens some interesting doors into the discussion of what the human body can to with a little help from science.