Retinal implants are devices designed to restore sight for sufferers of diseases of the retina – the light-sensitive tissue in our eye. Currently, there’s a retinal implant approved for use in patients. Used in conjunction with a camera mounted on sunglasses and a transmitter device, the implant transforms the visual cues it receives and converts them into electrical impulses; these in turn stimulate neurons [nerve cells] in the eye, providing low levels of visual sensation – the recognition of light and simple objects. Recently, researchers have developed an experimental prototype of a smaller wireless-powered artificial retina made up of silicon nanowires (pictured in beige with retinal neurons false-coloured blue), which, inserted inside the eye, senses light entering the eye and stimulates retinal neurons. Tests on rat retina tissue demonstrated the potential of the implant, meaning that it could be developed further for use in clinical trials.
Written by Katie Panteli
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