Eyesight restoration has deservedly been the subject of much research over the years, but the latest advance detailed by a multinational team of scientists offers perhaps the simplest and cheapest route to achieving it. A chemical called AAQ (acrylamide-azobenzene-quaternary ammonium) has been injected into the eyes of blind mice and shown to restore their vision at least partially — evidence of their renewed photosensitivity can be seen in the pupillary response demonstration video below. Small amounts of AAQ can generate this effect for a few hours at a time, making it a rather less drastic method than alternatives like stem cell therapy or synthetic implants.

Better versions of the chemical are already in testing that can extend its effect over days rather than hours, and the eventual goal is naturally to progress the research on to a level where human patients could benefit from its effects. The team responsible for this discovery is led by researchers at UC Berkeley, with participation from members of the faculties at the University of Munich and the University of Washington in Seattle.