A team of engineers at the University of California (UC) San Diego and La Jolla, California-based startup Nanovision Biosciences, Inc. have developed the nanotechnology and wireless electronics for a new type of retinal prosthesis that brings research a step closer to restoring the ability of neurons in the retina to respond to light. The researchers demonstrated this response to light in a rat retina interfacing with a prototype of the device in vitro. The scientists detail their work in an article published online on August 16, 2016 in the Journal of Neural Engineering. The article is titled “Towards High-Resolution Retinal Prostheses with Direct Optical Addressing and Inductive Telemetry.” The technology could help tens of millions of people worldwide suffering from neurodegenerative diseases that affect eyesight, including macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, and loss of vision due to diabetes. Despite tremendous advances in the development of retinal prostheses over the past two decades, the performance of devices currently on the market to help the blind regain functional vision is still severely limited--well under the acuity threshold of 20/200 that defines legal blindness. "We want to create a new class of devices with drastically improved capabilities to help people with impaired vision," said Gabriel A. Silva, Ph.D., one of the senior authors of the work and professor in bioengineering and ophthalmology at UC San Diego. Dr. Silva also is one of the original founders of Nanovision.
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