A new device to restore eyesight in blind people is being developed by Strathclyde University and Stanford University researchers.
Researchers are designing a prosthetic retina for patients suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD, being one of the most common causes for blindness, affects one in 500 patients aged between 55 and 64, and one in eight aged over 85.
The device works very much like a solar cell as “light hits it and it generates an electrical signal,” says Simon Andrews, business development manager at Strathclyde University’s Institute of Photonics.
The silicon device turns pulsed near-infrared light to electrical current that is used to stimulate neuronal cells in the retina and generate an image. The electrical stimulation is then carried by optic nerves to the brain, where it can be interpreted, allowing a patient to see.
The device has produced encouraging responses in initial lab tests on rats. Also it is reported in an article published in Nature Photonics.
Though Clara Eaglen, eye health campaigns manager at the Royal National Institute of Blind People, says ‘it is still at an early stage and more extensive trials are needed to confirm the safety and effectiveness of this kind of treatment.