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Prosthetic retina offers simple solution to restoring sight
Date:5/17/2012

A device which could restore sight to patients with one of the most common causes of blindness in the developed world is being developed in an international partnership.

Researchers from the University of Strathclyde and Stanford University in California are creating a prosthetic retina for patients of age related macular degeneration (AMD), which affects one in 500 patients aged between 55 and 64 and one in eight aged over 85.

The device would be simpler in design and operation than existing models. It acts by electrically stimulating neurons in the retina, which are left relatively unscathed by the effects of AMD while other 'image capturing' cells, known as photoreceptors, are lost.

It would use video goggles to deliver energy and images directly to the eye and be operated remotely via pulsed near infra-red light- unlike most prosthetic retinas, which are powered through coils that require complex surgery to be implanted.

The prosthetic retina is a thin silicon device that converts pulsed near infra-red light to electrical current that stimulates the retina and elicits visual perception. It requires no wires and would make surgical implantation simpler. The device has been shown to produce encouraging responses in initial lab tests and is reported in an article published in Nature Photonics. The technology is now being developed further.

Dr Keith Mathieson, now a Reader in the Institute of Photonics at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, was one of the lead researchers and first author of the paper. He said: "AMD is a huge medical challenge and, with an aging population, is continuing to grow. This means that innovative, practical solutions are essential if sight is to be restored to people around the world with the condition.

"The prosthetic retina we are developing has been partly inspired by cochlear implants for the ear but with a camera instead of a microphone and, where many cochlea
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Contact: Paul Gallagher
paul.gallagher@strath.ac.uk
44-141-548-2370
University of Strathclyde
Source:Eurekalert

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