Gold and Organic Ink Could Restore Vision

June 1, 2018  Source: Ddu 209

Millions of people suffer from genetic eye diseases named retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration that ultimately leads to blindness. In these diseases, only the photoreceptors are lost. The remaining retinal neurons which process and transmit the electric signals to the brain stay preserved.

A research team from Linköping University in Sweden devised an artificial retina made of organic ink and gold in order to restore vision. The lead investigator, Eric Glowacki, only intended to bypass the photoreceptors present in eyes and stimulate the neurons directly. Bypassing them is not a novel idea as there are many retinal implants available on the market with this objective. But the unique wireless implant created by Eric Glowacki uses an extremely thin sheet of organic crystal pigments to be easily accepted by the body. These pigments absorb light and convert it to electric signals in the same way photoreceptors do.

Derrick Cheng, a researcher from Brown University said, "This is pretty unique; the eye naturally has a pigmented layer in it. So this approach is more akin to what the retina actually looks like."

The device was successfully tested in chickens’ retinas, where their vision was regained. The research team is currently testing in live non-blind rabbits. Rabbits were selected since they could naturally see only green and blue colors, but not red. Hence the team is testing whether the rabbit could see red color after implanting this artificial device.

By Ddu