Artificial retina restores rat vision

While the technology to restore sight in blind humans is still in the very early stages, researchers from Stanford University may have made a significant breakthrough.  The team of scientists successfully restored a blind rat's ability to sense light through the use of a new kind of prosthetic retina.  The device was implanted into the eye of a blind rat, and brain scans were used to discover that the rat had "seen" the light.

The Stanford team was able to develop a wireless prosthesis that projects camera images onto the retina using near-infared light.  A solar cell implanted in the retina converts the light into electric current, which activates neurons in the retina – mimicking what the photoreceptor cells in the eye are designed to do.  In the rat experiment, the visual cortex showed a response when light was shone onto the prosthetic device, indicating that the rat's eye had sensed the light.

This is a significant step towards treating blindness caused by diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration in humans. Though retinal prosthesis has been in development for some time, the results of this research indicate that a device can be wireless, scalable and effective.

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Sourced from: Live Science, Seeing the Light: Retinal Prosthesis Restores Rat Vision