By Zoe Noakes, produced for online by Mitchell Ogden.

After 15 years of research, Australia’s first bionic eye could soon offer hope to blind people.

Biomedical engineers from the University of New South Wales hope their goal of restoring people’s vision will become a reality within the next year.

UNSW computer science professor Nigel Lovell says he is excited to begin human trials next year.

“Until we actually put it in people we won’t know exactly how well it works,” he said.

“But our experimental work and our mathematical and computer models show that this is possible.”

Vision Australia spokesman Gerrard Gossens says the bionic eye will allow for further research into vision restoration.

“It is absolutely sensational because it gives us obviously the chance to research into a whole range of different opportunities for people who may be blind or have low vision,” he said.

He says even the slightest vision improvement would be significant.

“I am actually totally blind and I know that any form of light perception, no matter how bad or how good it is, would be a great help,” he said.

Macular Degeneration Foundation policy and research manager Robert Cummins says blind people should not get too excited about the bionic eye just yet.

“Our understanding is that they won’t have a device that is likely to be of much benefit for blind people for many years to come,” he said.

For more information about the bionic eye visit Bionic Vision Australia’s website.