The Sharper Image
Photovoltaic pixels could help create a wireless retinal prosthesis with a much better spatial resolution than current offerings
Michael Schubert |
Most patients with retinal degeneration lose sight because of a gradual loss of photoreceptors, with the rest of the retina remaining largely functional. This fact is what enables retinal prostheses to work – they provide electrical stimulation of the surviving neurons and enable information to enter the visual system once more. There are two ways of stimulating the surviving neurons with retinal prostheses: epiretinally, targeting the retinal ganglion cells (the approach taken with Second Sight’s Argus II), or subretinally, targeting the inner retinal neurons (as per Retina Implant’s Alpha IMS). However, irrespective of the approach, the fact remains that the implantation of these prostheses and their transscleral cables is a long and challenging surgical procedure, and even after a successful procedure, visual acuity remains below 20/1,000 in most cases (1,2).
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