For the over-55 crowd, the risk of vision loss goes up. A new self-powered bionic eye being developed by a team of opthalmologists and physicists could help restore eyesight to older adults with severely limited eyesight.
The common condition, called age-related macular degeneration, destroys the most sensitive part of the retina located at the back of the eye. When that part goes, objects become so blurry that it's difficult to recognize faces, drive a car or read text. Retinal implants do exist, but they are bulky and require complex surgery.
A team from Stanford University and the University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom has created a thin prosthetic chip from silicon that electrically stimulates neurons in the retina. Unlike other retinal implants, the device is photovoltaic so it wouldn't require complicated surgery for a battery-powered setup.
Daniel Palanker, associate professor of opthalmology and experimental physics at Stanford, along with UC Santa Cruz associate physics professor Alexander Sher and postdocs Keith Mathieson and Jim Loudin led the work, which was recently published in the journal Nature Photonics (abstract).