New Retinal Implant Bypasses Damaged Retina Cells

October 7, 2009

Researchers from MIT as well as Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, the Boston VA Medical Center and Cornell have developed a retinal implant that bypasses damaged retinal cells and gives direct visual input to the brain. The eye implant is designed for people who have lost their vision from retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration.

Patients who received the implant would wear a pair of glasses with a camera that would send images to a microchip which attached to the eye. The glasses also wirelessly transmit power to receiving coils that surround the eyeball.

When the microchip receives visual information, it activates electrodes that stimulate nerve cells in areas of the retina that corresponds to the features of the visual scene. The electrodes directly activate optical nerves that carry signals to the brain, bypassing the damaged layers of retina.

One of the biggest challenges is designing a surgical procedure and implant that won’t damage the eye. The researchers hope to test this device in humans within the next 3 years.

Read the release.




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