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The Electroftalm is an invention of the Polish ophthalmologist Kazimierz Noiszewski[A 1] which was developed between 1897 and 1899,[1] The arrangement served to give blind people a perception of their environment and thus to increase their quality of life. The device replicates the outer part of the natural visual system.

One of the students of prof. Starkiewicz, Dr. W. Kuprianowicz and techn. F. Petruczenko while putting electroftalm on a patient's head (1969)


This system gave the blind the opportunity to perceive the surroundings.[2] The blind man becomes independent of assistance dog, white cane or blind leader.


The original Noiszewski system consisted of a photoresistor as a sensor and an acoustic transducer. The device was improved by Witold Starkiewicz [A 2] using a matrix of sensor cells and vibrating actuators in the years 1960 and 1970.


The Electroftalm consists of:

  • Camera
    The camera maps the field of view onto a matrix of 120 (10 rows of 9–12 elements) of CdS – photocell n ,
  • Control unit
    The control unit converts the electrical values ​​of the photocells into control signals for the actuator.
  • Actuator system
    The actuator system consists of a Matrix of 120 electromagnetic vibrators attached to a convenient location on the user's body. For this purpose, the inventor carried out research. He found his forehead as the right place for this.



  • The CdS photo (resistance) cells are large, the reaction time depends on the light[3][4]
  • The power consumption of the device is high and the possible storage volume is low.
  • The 120-element matrix allows only a small resolution of image.


  • It is necessary for the user to learn to transform the vibration signal into a visual image.
  • The device is heavy.


Current development[edit]

The development of semiconductor device fabrication (Charge-coupled device or thermoelectric cooling), surgical techniques (Visual prosthesis), medical research and methods such as implant or direct stimulation offer new approaches.

A completely analogous technique was distributed between 1970 and the late 1990s under the name Optacon for recognizing characters. Camera and encoder were so small here that they could easily be guided over the documents and the vibrating surface could be felt with one finger.

See also[edit]

  • Machine Vision
  • Blindness



  • Michał Pec, Paweł Strumiłło, Paweł Pełczynski, Michał Bujacz (2006), "Stowarzyszenie Elektryków Polskich", in SEP, O słyszeniu obrazów – systemy wspomagania osób niewidomych w percepcji otoczenia, 35 (6), Łódź: Techniczno-Informacyjny Zarządu Łódzkiego, pp. 6–11, ISSN 1428-8966CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)


  1. Kazimierz Noiszewski, b. September 11,1859 in Vilnius, died July 5, 1930, in Warsaw, Polish ophthalmologist, lecturer at the Medical Military Academy in St. Petersburg, professor at the Stefan Bator University in Vilnius and the Warsaw University
  2. Witold Szymon Starkiewicz, Pomeranian Medical Academy, Szczecin


  1. Maciej Iłowiecki, (1981). Dzieje nauki polskiej (Die Geschichte der polnischen Wissenschaft) (in polski). Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Interpress. p. 203. ISBN 83-223-1876-6. Za konstruktora pierwszego „oka elektrycznego” przeznaczonego dla osób niewidomych uchodzi również polski okulista Michał Borysiekiewicz (The inventor of the first "electric eye "For the blind will also be the Polish ophthalmologist Michał Borysiekiewicz) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  2. "Słownik języka polskiego PWN - elektroftalm" (in polski). Encyklopedia PWN.
  3. Otto Beyer (2014). Exposure and Film Development. Norderstedt: Books on Demand. ISBN 978-3-7357-4479-1. CdS light meters have [...] disadvantages. To a [...] memory effect. [...] In low-light conditions, the CdS cells react quite slowly Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  4. Heimarm Semiconductor Devices for Versatile Applications (PDF). HIT-Karlsruhe. The on and off of a current in the CdS / SeFotoleiter when switching on and off an illumination is between 1 ms and a few seconds, depending on illuminance, layer and doping Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png

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