Photovoltaic restoration of sight with high visual acuity in rats with retinal degeneration

D Palanker, G Goetz, H Lorach, Y. Mandel, R Smith, D Boinagrov, X Lei, T Kamins, J Harris, K Mathieson, A Sher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Patients with retinal degeneration lose sight due to gradual demise of photoreceptors. Electrical stimulation of the surviving retinal neurons provides an alternative route for delivery of visual information. Subretinal photovoltaic arrays with 70μm pixels were used to convert pulsed near-IR light (880-915nm) into pulsed current to stimulate the nearby inner retinal neurons. Network-mediated responses of the retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) could be modulated by pulse width (1-20ms) and peak irradiance (0.5-10 mW/mm2). Similarly to normal vision, retinal response to prosthetic stimulation exhibited flicker fusion at high frequencies, adaptation to static images, and non-linear spatial summation. Spatial resolution was assessed in-vitro and in-vivo using alternating gratings with variable stripe width, projected with rapidly pulsed illumination (20-40Hz). In-vitro, average size of the electrical receptive fields in normal retina was 248±59μm – similar to their visible light RF size: 249±44μm. RGCs responded to grating stripes down to 67μm using photovoltaic stimulation in degenerate rat retina, and 28μm with visible light in normal retina. In-vivo, visual acuity in normally-sighted controls was 29±5μm/stripe, vs. 63±4μm/stripe in rats with subretinal photovoltaic arrays, corresponding to 20/250 acuity in human eye. With the enhanced acuity provided by eye movements and perceptual learning in human patients, visual acuity might exceed the 20/200 threshold of legal blindness. Ease of implantation and tiling of these wireless arrays to cover a large visual field, combined with their high resolution opens the door to highly functional restoration of sight. © (2015) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationSPIE BiOS 2015
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

International Society for Optics and Photonics.;
Place of conference:San Francisco, California, United States


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