Solar panel eye implant promises gift of vision to visually impaired

Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have recently devised a system for people suffering from vision deterioration using tiny solar panel like cells surgically implanted underneath the retina. It is hoped that this innovation will soon help restore sight to people who have lost their vision due to some degenerative diseases.

Restoring sight
Restoring sight

The device is an innovative retinal prosthesis which involves a specially designed pair of goggles, equipped with a miniature camera and a pocket PC, which will process the visual data system. The resulting images will then be displayed on a micro display etched in the goggles. This system is akin to the goggles used for video gaming but unlike the video goggles, the images would be bolstered from the LCD using laser pulses of near infrared lights to a photovoltaic silicon chip.

This chip will be implanted beneath the retina and is as thin as one third of a hair strand. Electric currents from the photodiodes implanted on the chip will then trigger signals in the retina, which will further flow to the brain and enable a visually impaired person to regain vision. Associate professor of ophthalmology and one of the paper`s senior authors Dr Daniel Palanker was quoted as saying that the mechanism of this prosthesis is like solar panels on a roof but instead of the current flowing to the electrical devices, it flows to the eyes of the user.

This experiment has been successfully conducted on rats in vitro and now the scientists are testing the system on live rats and taking into account their physiological and behavioral measurements. They are also hopeful about finding a sponsor to support the test in human beings.

In the other parts of world also researches have been conducted since long around solar prosthetic but in few such successful instances coils, wires and other physical things are implanted in the retina while in the Stanford experiment infrared rays have been used for transmitting images which makes this device far more user friendly then the other ones.

Via: Physorg/ScienceDaily

© 2012, Gizmowatch. Some rights reserved.