What is it about?

The most promising results in restoration of sight to patients blinded by age-related macular degeneration to date have been achieved by replacing the missing photoreceptors with 'electronic photoreceptors'. To improve the visual acuity achievable by retinal implants, these electronic photoreceptors should be miniaturized further. In an animal model of blindness, we demonstrated the feasibility of reducing the electronic photoreceptors closer to cellular size by using a 3-dimensional honeycomb-shaped interface with the retina. This allows retinal neurons to migrate into wells containing the electrodes, thereby getting exposed to strong electric field, independent on size. Our results demonstrate good compatibility of such implants with the retina and high resolution, which open the door to highly functional restoration of sight.

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Why is it important?

The biological feasibility and compatibility of the honeycomb structures demonstrated in our study pave the way for decreasing the electronic photoreceptors down to 20 μm, thus enabling much higher resolution than in the current clinical trials. If successful in clinical trials, this technology may enable prosthetic vision with acuity exceeding 20/100, which would be very beneficial for many patients blinded by retinal degeneration.

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This page is a summary of: Cellular migration into a subretinal honeycomb-shaped prosthesis for high-resolution prosthetic vision, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2307380120.
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