Enhancing prosthetic vision by upgrade of a subretinal photovoltaic implant in situ

Bhuckory, Mohajeet B and Monkongpitukkul, Nicharee and Shin, Andrew and Goldstein, Anna Kochnev and Jensen, Nathan and Shah, Sarthak V and Pham-Howard, Davis and Butt, Emma and Dalal, Roopa and Galambos, Ludwig and Mathieson, Keith and Kamins, Theodore and Palanker, Daniel (2024) Enhancing prosthetic vision by upgrade of a subretinal photovoltaic implant in situ. Other. bioRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor, NY. (https://doi.org/10.1101/2024.04.15.589465)

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In patients with atrophic age-related macular degeneration, subretinal photovoltaic implant (PRIMA) provided visual acuity up to 20/440, matching its 100μm pixels size. Next-generation implants with smaller pixels should significantly improve the acuity. This study in rats evaluates removal of a subretinal implant, replacement with a newer device, and the resulting grating acuity in-vivo. Six weeks after the initial implantation with planar and 3-dimensional devices, the retina was re-detached, and the devices were successfully removed. Histology demonstrated a preserved inner nuclear layer. Re-implantation of new devices into the same location demonstrated retinal re-attachment to a new implant. New devices with 22μm pixels increased the grating acuity from the 100μm capability of PRIMA implants to 28μm, reaching the limit of natural resolution in rats. Reimplanted devices exhibited the same stimulation threshold as for the first implantation of the same implants in a control group. This study demonstrates the feasibility of safely upgrading the subretinal photovoltaic implants to improve prosthetic visual acuity.