Implant restores sight in rats

                                Bionic eye device shows successful results in restoring sight in rat study. 

A new bionic eye system which sends information to solar cell-like chips implanted in the eyes may one day help blind people partially gain vision.

The new implant system which has been successfully tested in rat retinas needs a less invasive surgery for the implantation of the chip compared to other bionic eye system already tested.

Stanford University researchers hope that their system may one day help people with a damaged retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the inner eye which converts images of the outside world to electric signals and sends them via the optic nerve to the brain.

The new bionic device is consisted of a high-tech system including implantable chip, a specially designed pair of goggles equipped with a miniature camera, and a pocket PC that processes the visual data, the scientists explain in their article published in the journal Nature Photonics.

According to the report, the handheld computer processes images captured by the video camera. Then Lasers inside the goggles send that information to photovoltaic chips implanted in the eye, stimulating nerve cells that send information to the brain. The person then perceives the images seen by the camera.

“It works like the solar panels on your roof, converting light into electric current. But instead of the current flowing to your refrigerator, it flows into your retina,” senior author Daniel Palanker.

The researchers, who are seeking a sponsor to support human tests, hope the new system may be used in future for patients with retinal degenerative diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.

However, the path of approval which was almost unsuccessful for other implantable systems would not be easy for the new bionic system as well.

Most of the implantable devices especially those designed for sensitive organs such as eyes usually failed to show safe and successful results in human tests despite being beneficent for animals.


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