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 Longer-Lasting Artificial Eyes

This story is from the category Sensors
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Date posted: 25/09/2008

Researchers with the Boston Retinal Implant Project have developed a retinal implant that can stay in the eye for years without declining in performance or causing inflammation.

In its current form, the implant can reproduce only a 15-pixel image, but the group is working on a version with around 100 pixels and hopes to get up to 1,000 eventually. In contrast, the perfectly functioning, 20/20 vision human eye has around 72,000,000 pixel equivalent.

The latest implant has been successfully tested in pigs, whose eyes are comparable in size to our own. It hasn't yet been tested in people, but the research group is confident it will restore enough vision to let people walk around unaided. The electrode array has previously been tested for short periods in patients who reported seeing clouds, red spots, and other images when the electrodes were activated one by one. "We know the concept works; now we need to get the device prepared," says Shawn Kelly, a visiting scientist at MIT who works for the Boston project.

The device sits mostly outside the eye. A coil around the iris receives wireless power and image data from a microcontroller that can be carried on a belt, and transmits data to electronics inside a waterproof titanium case (below). The electronics controls an electrode array connected to nerves in the back of the retina.

Credit: Shawn Kelly

Another arm of the Boston research group led by John Wyatt, a professor of electrical engineering at MIT, is working on algorithms for converting the camera signal into an image the brain can more easily interpret. An initial goal is enabling people to see enough to walk around a room unaided, so the system's software focuses on edge detection.

See the full Story via external site: www.technologyreview.com

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