More Powerful Retinal Prosthesis Components Integrated

Achievement date: 
2013
Outcome/accomplishment: 

Researchers developing sight-restoration technologies surpassed a major milestone by combining several electrical components for a 256-channel retinal prosthesis, or bionic eye.

The development builds upon earlier work on retinal prostheses performed for the National Science Foundation’s Biomimetic MicroElectronic Systems Engineering Research Center (BMES ERC), which is headquartered at the University of Southern California.

Impact/benefits: 

In the United States alone, millions of people suffer from retinal diseases that severely degrade or eliminate their sight. Retinal prosthesis technology holds the promise of restoring partial vision to people who would otherwise have to live with permanent blindness.

Explanation/Background: 

Developing a retinal prosthesis requires getting several complex systems to work smoothly together. Not the least of the challenges lies with integrating the device’s electrical components. The BMES researchers designed and built a test system that consisted of: an external camera and laptop to process video data; a wireless transmitter and receiver coil to send and capture data, respectively; a processor to translate data into stimulative electrical current among 256 different channels; and a 16-by-16 LED array for displaying the stimulas current as visual output.

In addition, the test demonstrated a powerful imaging technique that will be used to design the complex mathematical models needed to improve future retinal impants.