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Artificial Retinas

Eileen Ly

April 30, 2014
ENGN1930B, Photonics and Biophotonics
How Eyes Work
Light rays
Image formation on retina
Signal transmission to brain by optic nerve
Data processing
Thin membrane at the back of the eye
Main function: receive and transmit images to the brain
3 main types of cells:
Rods- outnumber cones 18:1
Low light=> Create black and white images
More light=>color and detail/higher resolution
Ganglion cells- ~1 million
receive and interpret messages from rods and
cones=>optic nerve=>brain

Applicable Eye Diseases
Retinitis Pigmentosa (inherited) 1/5000 affected worldwide
Macular Degeneration (age/damage-related) 1/2000 affected in developed
Degenerative eye diseases that can cause blindness
Retinal neurons are preserved after death of photoreceptors
Two Main Implant Types
Epiretinal Implants communicate directly with the ganglion and bipolar
Subretinal Implants replace photoreceptors in the retina.
Both use stimulation of functional neurons
Require an intact optic nerve pathway
Translate incoming light to electrical stimulation of the functional neurons
in the retina
May include other components such as image processing electronics, a telemetry system to
provide power and data to the implanted subsystems, implanted electronics for signal decoding
and stimulus generation, and an electrode array to deliver the electrical charge to the retina.
Epiretinal Implants
On the surface of the retina
Receive light signals from external cameras
Electronic chip camera mounted in the frame of special glasses
Subretinal Implants
Behind the retina
Receives light directly from the environment and converts it into electrical
Some Current Models
Argus II- first FDA approved
artificial retina (epiretinal)

Some Current Models
Argus II- first FDA approved
artificial retina (epiretinal)
Bio-Retina- subretinal artificial

Argus II by Second Sight
3 hour surgery
Three main parts: glasses-mounted video
camera, portable computer; and a chip
The video camera sends image data to the
computer, which is worn on a belt
The processor converts the image data into
electrical signals that are beamed to a chip
implanted near the retina
Array of 60 electrodes
These electrodes essentially do the work of
the light-sensing cells that have
Argus II by Second Sight
I can see if you are in front of me, and if you try to
go away, he says. Or, if I look at a big tree with the
system on I can maybe see some darkness and if its
bright outside and I move my head to the left or
right I can see different shadows that tell me there is
something there. Theres no way to tell what it is,
- Konstantopoulos.
Evolution of Argus
Model 1 (Argus I)
implanted in 6 blind patients between 2002 and 2004
16-electrode array
Model 2 (Argus II) patented 2013
smaller, more compact
60 electrodes
surgical implant time reduced from the 6 hours to 30 min
Model 3- in development
more than 200 electrodes
ready for preclinical testing
more advanced materials
Bio-Retina by Nano Retina
Smaller, no antenna
Implant captures images directly in the eye, and
a laser powers the implant remotely
30 min procedure
500 pixel (1
gen), 2000 pixel (2
Able to look side to side
$60,000 target price

Low resolution (Argus II)
Black and white
Relatively invasive
External components, not self-contained
Power source

Patent by Natcore- first self-powered artificial retina
Research at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genoa- made of organic, biocompatible
photovoltaic polymer
Improved resolution
Wavelengths outside visible spectrum
Direct visual cortex stimulation=>blindness due to other causes
Stem cells