A Retinal Prosthetic Powered by Light

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= = = Extract from a MIT Technology Review story = = =

A Retinal Prosthetic Powered by Light

A new type of eye implant requires less hardware and could restore more vision than existing devices.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

By Katherine Bourzac

Retinal implants powered by light could reverse some vision loss with simple surgery.

The new implant, which works like a combination digital imaging chip and photovoltaic array, requires much less bulky hardware than
previous designs. The devices have yet to be tested in live animals or human patients, but the implants are creating excitement
among researchers because they have greater pixel densities and may restore more vision than other retinal prosthetics being worked
on.

People suffering from macular degeneration (the most common cause of blindness among older people) and some other forms of blindness
have lost the light-sensing cells in the retina but still have the underlying nerve cells that convey visual information to the
brain. Retinal implants use electrodes to stimulate those nerves. Typically, the prosthetics require bulky electronics that sit on
the eye to supply power, image data, or both to a chip inside the retina. The more hardware that’s installed in the body, the
greater the risk to the patient. And the complexities of the electronics have typically limited the pixel counts of these systems.

The new design, described today in the journal Nature Photonics, gets around these problems by using light as both image and power
source. The device, designed by researchers at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, combines infrared video-projection
goggles with a small, wire-free chip implanted inside the retina.

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See the full story at

http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/40405/?nlid=nldly
http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/40405/?nlid=nldly&nld=2012-05-14 &nld=2012-05-14

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