New retinal prosthesis 'could help to restore vision in future'


A new type of high-resolution retinal prosthesis is being developed that could help to restore the vision of people affected by eyesight problems.

Created by a team of engineers at the University of California, San Diego and Nanovision Biosciences, the the nanotechnology and wireless electronics have been produced for a prosthesis that could feasibly restore the ability of neurons in the retina to respond to light.

“Researchers are creating a new type of retinal prosthesis that could prove instrumental in helping to restore the ability of neurons in the retina to respond to light. “

This technology incorporates arrays of silicon nanowires that simultaneously sense light and electrically stimulate the retina accordingly, yielding a higher resolution than anything achieved by other devices. The wireless device, meanwhile, can transmit power and data to the nanowires over the same wireless link at record speed and energy efficiency.

Advantages of this new system include the fact it does not require a vision sensor outside the eye to capture visual data, with the silicon nanowires mimicking the retina's light-sensing cones and rods to directly stimulate retinal cells.

In an early test, a confirmed response to light in a rat retina interfacing with a prototype of the device in vitro was observed. Animal tests are still in progress, with clinical trials set to follow.

Senior author Gabriel Silva, a professor in bioengineering and ophthalmology at the University of California, San Diego, said: "We want to create a new class of devices with drastically improved capabilities to help people with impaired vision."

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