Dr Penny Allen
In 2012, Penny led a surgical team to implant the world’s first bionic eye prototype. This early prototype consisted of a retinal implant with 24 electrodes attached to a connector behind patient Dianne Ashworth’s ear, enabling Ms Ashworth to see flashes of light for the first time since losing her sight more than 20 years ago. Since graduating as Dux of GGS in 1980, Penny studied Medicine at The University of Melbourne, followed by an internship and surgical training at The Royal Melbourne Hospital. She specialised in vitreo-retinal surgery at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital and completed a fellowship at Moorfield’s Eye Hospital in London. She is now a specialist surgeon at The Alfred Hospital and the Centre for Eye Research Australia as well as an ophthalmologist in the medical and vitreo-retinal unit at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. Retina research has come a long way during Penny’s career, with groups around the world developing different ways to restore sight by stimulating either the optic nerve or the brain. Penny is now working on a second-generation bionic eye and trialling an implant on the surface of the retina with 256 electrodes.