Scientists at Stanford University in California have invented a retinal implant, or bionic eye, which is powered by light. Currently, implants used in patients need to be powered by a battery.
Nature Photonics said the new device uses a special pair of glasses to beam infrared light into the eye, powering the implant and sending information which could help a patient see, reports the BBC
Diseases like age-related macular degeneration and retinal pigmentosa kill cells which detect light in the eye and lead to blindness. The retinal implants stimulate nerves in the back of the eye and has been shown to help some patients see.
Professor Robert MacLaren from Oxford Eye Hospital explained that a bionic eye implant works in a similar way to a solar panel fitted in the back of the eye. Glasses fitted with a video camera records what is happening before a patient's eyes and fires beams of near infrared light on to the retinal chip, creating an electrical signal which is passed on to nerves. Stanford researchers believe this method may eliminate “the need for complex electronics and wiring."
The implant has been shown to work in rats but has not been tested in people.
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