Photovoltaic restoration of sight with high visual acuity

Lorach, Henri and Goetz, Georges and Smith, Richard and Lei, Xin and Mandel, Yossi and Kamins, Theodore and Mathieson, Keith and Huie, Philip and Harris, James and Sher, Alexander and Palanker, Daniel (2015) Photovoltaic restoration of sight with high visual acuity. Nature Medicine. ISSN 1078-8956

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    Abstract

    Patients with retinal degeneration lose sight due to the gradual demise of photoreceptors. Electrical stimulation of surviving retinal neurons provides an alternative route for the delivery of visual information. We demonstrate that subretinal implants with 70-μm-wide photovoltaic pixels provide highly localized stimulation of retinal neurons in rats. The electrical receptive fields recorded in retinal ganglion cells were similar in size to the natural visual receptive fields. Similarly to normal vision, the retinal response to prosthetic stimulation exhibited flicker fusion at high frequencies, adaptation to static images and nonlinear spatial summation. In rats with retinal degeneration, these photovoltaic arrays elicited retinal responses with a spatial resolution of 64 ± 11 μm, corresponding to half of the normal visual acuity in healthy rats. The ease of implantation of these wireless and modular arrays, combined with their high resolution, opens the door to the functional restoration of sight in patients blinded by retinal degeneration.