This story is from the category Augmenting Organics
Date posted: 24/01/2006
On the 13th of January, Intelligent Medical Implants AG a Switzerland-based company has announced the release of its 1st generation ?Learning Retinal Implant System?.
This eye-prosthetic contains a 50-electrode device, two copies of which were successfully implanted in patients in December 2005.
The University of Hamburg Medical School has since been conducting a clinical evaluation. This LRIS is noteworthy as by far the most complex retinal implant tested in humans to date.
The LRIS works by replacing the signal-processing functions of a healthy retina, interfacing directly with the ganglea, and through that, the optic nerve itself.
The System comprises three main components:
1. an implant, "The Retinal Stimulator", which is surgically placed into the eye of a patient:
2. A pair of glasses worn by the patient that contain an integrated mini-camera and transmitter components for wireless signal and energy transmission ("The Visual Interface"). Via a cable, the spectacles are connected to:
3. "The Pocket Processor" worn at the patient's waist. This device replaces the information processing function of the formally healthy retina.
The whole kit is designed to send as much information to the retina as possible, to train the eye to work with it as efficiently as possible.
Currently, the system is being tested in patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a hereditary blindness.
Stephan Rietiker, CEO of IMI stated: "We expect that our Learning Retinal Implant System will some day allow patients to 'see' objects by identifying their size, their position and their movements and shapes. In other words, a previously blind person, using our retinal implant, is expected to be able to move independently in an unknown environment - without the need for a guide dog or cane. No doubt, the development of a wireless visual prosthesis that could be implanted permanently with good results would be a colossal leap forward for the field of artificial vision, and we believe that we are now well down that road."
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