Now Humayun is developing a device that mimics the function of the retina and which he hopes will one day restore a useful degree of sight in patients affected by retinal diseases.via ScienCentral
The retinal implant consists of a set of electrodes on a chip that is surgically attached to the retina. It wirelessly receives images from a tiny lightweight video camera mounted on a pair of glasses.
The first model of the implant allowed patients to perceive light and to detect motion using just sixteen electrodes. The new model uses sixty electrodes or pixels. The new implant with sixty pixels, he says, is one quarter the size of the original and requires only 90 minutes to implant as compared with nearly seven hours for the earlier device.
Humayun says he expects tests with the new implant to provide the information researchers need to design a third generation device that will have the image resolving power necessary to benefit AMD patients. That would be an implant with hundreds or even a thousand electrodes. "That's where we're headed," he says, "so we can get to the point of allowing the patients to read and recognize faces."
Based on testing of the current implant, Humayun hopes to receive FDA approval for a device that restores partial vision for RP patients to the market in two to three years.