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Artificial retina receives FDA approval
Date:2/14/2013

vealed that healthy neural pathways can carry information to the brain, even though other parts of the eye are damaged," adds Narayanan. "The retinal prosthesis they developed from that work simulates the most complex part of the eye. Based on the promise of that implant, we decided in 2003 to entrust the research team with an NSF Engineering Research Center," says Narayanan. "The center was to scale up technology development and increase device sensitivity and biocompatibility, while simultaneously preparing students for the workforce and building partnerships to speed the technology to the marketplace, where it could make a difference in people's lives. The center has succeeded with all of those goals."

The researchers' efforts have bridged cellular biology--necessary for understanding how to stimulate the retinal ganglion cells without permanent damage--with microelectronics, which led to the miniaturized, low-power integrated chip for performing signal conversion, conditioning and stimulation functions. The hardware was paired with software processing and tuning algorithms that convert visual imagery to stimulation signals, and the entire system had to be incorporated within hermetically sealed packaging that allowed the electronics to operate in the vitreous fluid of the eye indefinitely. Finally, the research team had to develop new surgical techniques in order to integrate the device with the body, ensuring accurate placement of the stimulation electrodes on the retina.

"The artificial retina is a great engineering challenge under the interdisciplinary constraint of biology, enabling technology, regulatory compliance, as well as sophisticated design science," adds Liu. "The artificial retina provides an interface between biotic and abiotic systems. Its unique design characteristics rely on system-level optimization, rather than the more common practice of component optimization, to achieve miniaturization and integration. Using the most adva
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Contact: Joshua A. Chamot
jchamot@nsf.gov
703-292-7730
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert  

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