California researchers prefer artificial retina over stem cell therapy

A group of California University researchers claimed to have developed a new artificial retina to treat major eye diseases like macular degeneration at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), in San Francisco this week. This 60-pixel retina is claimed to be more realistic future treatment then the stem cell therapy. The team of the researchers are however, gunning for a system with a resolution of 1000 pixels.

In the artificial retina, a camera mounted on glasses outside the eye sends the visual signals to two RF coils inside the front half of the eye. An electronics module inside the eye’s vitreous humor—the gelatinous saline sac that fills the space between the lens of the eye and the retina at the back of the eye—translates the RF signals into voltages for use in the high-res retina chip. Lying against the retina is a grid of 1000 electrodes on a flexible substrate; these electrodes apply voltage signals to the retina, which interprets them as photons. The rest of the visual process takes place as usual, and the system mimics relatively normal vision.

Ideally, that artificial retina would be contained entirely within a person’s eyeball.Instead of batteries, the device uses inductive coils that pick up energy transmitted from outside the body. The researchers are also relying on insights from MEMS fabrication: the implant coils, interconnects, and 1000 electrodes are formed during a single parylene micromachining process.

Jamal Deen, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at McMaster University said, "You need to get everything into the eye including the camera."

Source: ieee spectrum online

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