Science for the Masses, an independent research group based in Tehachapi, California, injected a special serum into the eyes of one of their team members, and succeeded in giving him night vision for a short period of time.
The team was inspired by a solution that’s a chlorophyll analog called Chlorin e6 (or Ce6), molecules that are often used to treat night blindness and found in some deep-sea fish. In a recent interview with Mic, the lab’s medical officer, Jeffrey Tibbetts, stated, “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.”
Intrigued by the possibility, the team came to an agreement that team biochem researcher Gabriel Licina would be their first human test subject.
Night vision one drop at a time
Intent on replicating a scene from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Tibbetts took a speculum and stretched Licina’s eyes wide open. Next, Tibbets used an instrument that looks like a cooking baster and dripped 50 microliters of Ce6 into Licina’s conjunctival sac (located inside your lower eyelid). The solution then found its way into Licina’s retina.
“To me, it was a quick, greenish-black blur across my vision, and then it dissolved into my eyes,” said Licina.
Within an hour, the solution started working and Licina was able to see shapes 10 meters away in a dark field where the team decided to conduct the initial experiment. Subsequent tests revealed the ability to see symbols and even human figures moving around more than 50 meters away. The team detailed their results in a paper called “A Review on Night Enhancement Eyedrops Using Chlorin e6.”
Aside from the being able to enhance human night vision, the team is also motivated to bring the process of scientific inquiry to the masses. According to Tibbetts, “For us, it comes down to pursuing things that are doable but won’t be pursued by major corporations. 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.”