The wireless retinal implant could restore vision five times better than existing devices, the researchers say.
So far the device has only been tested in rat studies, but those results suggest it could provide functional vision to patients with retinal degenerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration. A clinical trial is planned next year in France.
“The performance we’re observing at the moment is very encouraging,” said Georges Goetz, a lead author of the paper and graduate student in electrical engineering at Stanford. “Based on our current results, we hope that human recipients of this implant will be able to recognize objects and move about.”
Retinal degenerative diseases destroy photoreceptors — the retina’s rods and cones — but other parts of the eye usually remain healthy. The implant capitalizes on the electrical excitability of retinal neurons known as bipolar cells.
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