Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Seeing the Light: Retinal Prosthesis Restores Rat Vision


A new kind of visual prosthesis, implanted under the retina of a rat's eye, restores the animal's sensitivity to light.

Technology for restoring vision is still at an early stage, but a new kind of retinal prosthesis allows blind rats to sense light, a study shows.

The new device was implanted in the eyes of visually impaired rats. Exposing the prostheses to light elicited a response in the part of the rats' brains involved in visual processing, researchers reported online today (June 18) in the journal Nature Communications. The device offers promise for restoring vision in degenerative diseases of the eye.

Inside the retina — the light-sensitive inner layer of the back of the eye — cells called photoreceptors convert light into neural signals, much as a camera sensor converts light into digital signals. In diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration, some photoreceptors are lost, but the rest of the retina is preserved.

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