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In this paper I describe the need for artificial retina and the current version of artificial retina and the future expectations.

For those millions of us whose vision isn't perfect, there are glasses. But for those hundreds of thousands who are blind, devices that merely assist the eyes just aren't enough. What they need are alternative routes by which the sights of the world can enter the brain and be interpreted. There are 25 million people across the globe, including 6 million Americans, who are blind or severely visually impaired by diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP), both of which destroy the cells that allow light to be translated into recognizable images. By 2020, that figure is expected to double, creating a virtual vision-loss epidemic.It is this current need, as well as the future threat, to create the artificial retina project. The artificial retina could help those blinded by age-related macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa where neural wiring from the eye to brain is intact, but the eyes lack photoreceptor activity. In this paper I describe the need for artificial retina and the current version of artificial retina and the future expectations.



Although he is blind, he sees everything. He wears special glasses capable of transmitting optical signals directly to the brain. Science or Fiction? Beeep, beeep, beeep. Your eyes pop open and scan the table for the alarm clock. Time to get up. Where are your slippers? There they are, flung under the chair. Next you head to the kitchen. Another search begins for the coffee. Aha! You spot the beans behind the filters. Start again. This time, keep your eyes closed. Even the simplest tasks will provide a steep challenge. Seeing is a complicated process. First, light falls onto the retina's optical cells, which transform it into electrical impulses. The signals are sent via the optical nerve to the brain, where a complicated process results in the images we see. Just one broken link in this chain of events means the person can no longer see-s/he is blind.


Here is a simple explanation of what happens when you look at an object: Scattered light from the object enters through the cornea The light is projected onto the retina. The retina sends messages to the brain through the optic nerve. The brain interprets what the object is.

The anatomy of the eye The retina is complex in itself. This thin membrane at the back of the eye is a vital part of your ability to see. Its main function is to receive and transmit images to the brain. These are the three main types of cells in the eye that help perform this function: Rods Cones Ganglion Cells

There are about 125 million rods and cones within the retina that act as the eye's photoreceptors. Rods are the most numerous of the two photoreceptors, outnumbering cones 18 to 1. Rods are able to function in low light (they can detect a single photon) and can create black and white images without much light. Once enough light is available (for example, daylight or artificial light in a room), cones give us the ability to see color and detail of objects. Cones are responsible for allowing you to read this article, because they allow us to see at a high resolution.


There are a number of retinal diseases that attack these cells, which can lead to blindness. The most notable of these diseases are 1.retinitis pigmentosa 2.age-related macular degeneration. Both of these diseases attack the retina, rendering the rods and cones inoperative, causing either loss of peripheral vision or total blindness. However, it's been found that neither of these retinal diseases affect the ganglion cells or the optic nerve. This means that if scientists can develop artificial cones and rods, information could still be sent to the brain for interpretation.


The tiny self-contained chip, slightly larger than the head of a pin, is surgically implanted just below the retina on the back of the eye. It gets its power by the light entering the eye. The chip contains about 3,500 microscopic solar cells that are designed to convert light energy into thousands of electrical impulses. These signals stimulate the intact, functional cells of the retina in patients with cell damage caused by macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. This stimulation induces biological visual signals in the "good" retina tissue. The nerve fiber on the retina can then do its job of sending these electrical signals to the brain, via the optic nerve. One possible system would detect images in a video camera mounted on a pair of Eyeglasses (1). Next, the images would be converted into specially patterned electrical signals that wirelessly transmit to a computer chip implanted in the retina area (2). The chip then would stimulate the remaining healthy portions of the retina and visual pathway and, if all goes well, produce the perception of an image in the brain the retina and visual pathway and, if all goes well, produce the Image.

Like in a healthy eye, light bundled by the lens will initially penetrate the inner retina layers, there to hit the tiny photo-diodes. The scientists imagine that this is where an electrical current will be generated which will stimulate the nerve cells. .

The prototype implants contain 16 electrodes, allowing patients to detect the presence or absence of light. The artificial retina project's "next generation" device would have 1,000electrodes and hopes to allow the user to see images.

Tiny telescope implant. Part of cataract replacement lens Experimental drugs to restore vision; not so fast, say doctors Artificial retina. In University research. Bionic eye. FDA looking at a chip implant When double vision is good. A heads-up concept. Wiring to the brain bypasses optical nerve Super-glasses for better than 20/20 vision.

To date, six volunteers have received implants of a micro-electronic device that rests on the surface of the retina to perform the function of normal photoreceptive cells. Artificial retina research began with Mark Humayun, then at Johns Hopkins University. The first human trial of Second Sight's artificial retina has been running since 2002, and it has enabled a formerly blind patient to distinguish between objects such as cups and plates, and even to make out large letters. But with only 16 electrodes, the device does not allow the patient to see a clear picture. For that, thousands of electrodes are needed on the same size of chip, making it even more delicate. TODAY, THE ASR MICROCHIP IS STILL BEING STUDIED IN CLINICAL TRIALS AND IS NOT AVAILABLE COMMERCIALLY. Optobionics hopes to have this procedure available to patients within 5 years. Right now, the ASR(artificial silicon retina) is designed to let the user make out rough shapes in shades of black and white. Higher quality, better resolution, and even color are possible in the future;