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Photovoltaic Retinal Prosthesis for Restoring Sight to the Blind
Blindness is one of the most devastating consequences of disease. We develop electronic retinal prosthesis for restoration of sight to patients suffering from degenerative retinal diseases such as Retinitis Pigmentosa and Age-Related Macular Degeneration. In these conditions the photoreceptor cells slowly degenerate, leading to blindness. However, many of the inner retinal neurons that transmit signals from the photoreceptors to the brain are preserved to a large extent for a prolonged period of time. Electrical stimulation of the remaining retinal neurons can produce phosphenes - perception of light, and the first retinal implants involving a small number of electrodes (16 to 60) yielded encouraging results in patients with retinal degeneration. However, thousands of pixels are likely to be required for functional restoration of sight, such as reading and face recognition. Development of a high resolution retinal prosthesis faces multiple engineering and biological challenges, such as delivery of information to thousands of pixels at video rate, placement of the electrodes in close proximity to the target cells, avoidance of fibrotic encapsulation of the implant, signal processing that compensates for the partial loss of the retinal neural network, and many others. Due to highly interdisciplinary nature of this project our group includes specialists from four departments at Stanford: Ophthalmology, Hansen Experimental Physics Lab, Electrical Engineering, and Neurobiology. Check out the whole article at [URL="http://http://www.stanford.edu/~palanker/lab/retinalpros.html"]http://http://www.stanford.edu/~palanker/lab/retinalpros.html[/URL] It is truly fascinating.
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