Optics.org, CSEM, Globes, Xinhua: Aiming for clinical trials in 2013, an Israeli start-up Nano Retina neuron-stimulating synthetic retina is powered by spectacles featuring an infrared laser. The bio-retina implant combines imager with neural interface which is glued to a patient’s macula – the area of the retina responsible for high-resolution central vision. The 3 x 4 mm and 1 mm thick implant captures light through the normal optical track of the eyeball and stimulate neurons to transmit information to the brain, partially restoring the function of the damaged photoreceptors.
The first-generation bio-retina will use an array of 600 (24 x 24) pixels, although the aim is to increase this to 5000 (72 x 72) pixels in future generations. Patients who undergo surgery to implant a bio-retina will need to wear a special set of glasses with built-in battery and an infrared diode laser. “The infrared laser light is transmitted into the eye and captured by a miniature photovoltaic cell on the bio-retina,” explained Ra’anan Gefen, Nano Retina’s managing director. “The photovoltaic cell harvests the energy, which in turn powers the electronic circuitry. Our goal is for the imager and the electronics to consume no more than 1mW.” The imager is developed in collaboration with CSEM. A Youtube video shows how it works:
CBS, EPFL, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review: A different approach is pursued by California company Second Sight working in cooperation with Switzerland's EPFL. The company uses glass-mounted camera with image transferred electrically into eye. Second Sight's device, the Argus II, will cost around $115,000 and be available only through a small number of clinics in Switzerland, France, and the U.K. The company hopes to receive approval from the U.S. FDA by next year:
A similar technology is used by Germany-based Retina Implant AG.