Stanford physicists and eye doctors have teamed up to design a "bionic eye," of sorts.
On Feb. 22 in the Journal of Neural Engineering, Daniel Palanker, Alexander Vankov and Phil Huie from the Department of Ophthalmology and the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory and Stephen Baccus from the Department of Neurobiology published a design of an optoelectronic retinal prosthesis system that can stimulate the retina with resolution corresponding to a visual acuity of 20/80--sharp enough to orient yourself toward objects, recognize faces, read large fonts, watch TV and, perhaps most important, lead an independent life. The researchers hope their device may someday bring artificial vision to those blind due to retinal degeneration. They are testing their system in rats, but human trials are at least three years away.
"This is basic research," said Palanker, a physicist whose primary appointment is in the Ophthalmology Department. "It's the essence of Bio-X," he said, referring to Stanford's interdisciplinary initiative to speed biomedical research from benchtop to bedside.
The project is funded in part by the U.S. Air Force and VISX Corp., which licensed the technology through Stanford's Office of Technology Licensing. Harvey Fishman, who is not an author of the current paper but directs the Stanford Ophthalmic Tissue Engineering Laboratory, pioneered the project.
Degenerative retinal diseases result in death of photoreceptors--rod-shaped cells at the retina's periphery responsible for night vision and cone-shaped cells at its center responsible for color vision. Worldwide, 1.5 million people suffer from retinitis pigmentosa (RP), the leading cause of inherited blindness. In the Western world, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the major cause of vision loss in people over age 65, and the issue is becoming more critical as the population ages. Each year, 700,000 people are diagnosed with AMD, with 10 percent becoming legally blind, defiPage: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Related biology news :1
Contact: Dawn Levy
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