Major advance for bionic eye

University of New South Wales (UNSW; Sydney, Australia) researchers have unveiled the first microchip which is expected to power Australia's first bionic eye.

May 1st, 2012
Major advance for bionic eye
Major advance for bionic eye

University of New South Wales (UNSW; Sydney, Australia) researchers have unveiled the first microchip which is expected to power Australia's first bionic eye.

Associate Professor Gregg Suaning, of UNSW’s Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering and a project leader in Bionic Vision Australia (BVA), said the microchip -- which has 98 electrodes to stimulate the retina and enable patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) to perceive vision -- is performing well in preliminary lab testing.

The microchip will be at the core of a wide-view neurostimulator system being developed by BVA. The system consists of a camera attached to a pair of glasses which transmits high-frequency radio signals to the chip that is implanted in the retina. Electrodes on the implanted chip convert these signals into electrical impulses to stimulate cells in the retina that connect to the optic nerve. These impulses are then passed down along the optic nerve to the vision processing centers of the brain, where they are interpreted as an image. The first full implant of the system in a patient is planned for 2013.

A second prototype retinal prosthesis builds on the development of the first prototype. This device will include an implanted chip with over one thousand electrodes to stimulate the retina and enable patients to perceive more detailed visual information. It may be most suitable to patients with age-related macular degeneration and should be ready for the first tests with patients in 2014.

To benefit from the technology, patients need to have a functional visual pathway from the retina to the brain along the optic nerve, as well as some intact retinal cells.

-- by Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

More in Life Sciences
The new Basler blaze camera
Sponsored
The new Basler blaze camera