Retinal Stimulation

Devices are being developed to restore vision to patients blinded by retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration. Many of these devices mount tiny cameras or receivers on a pair of glasses and process the images into electrical signals that are transmitted to electrode arrays implanted within the retina. The signals travel to the brain through the optic nerve, enabling the patient to see patterns of light and darkness. With practice, these individuals can interpret these patterns into useful images that help them to navigate and identify their surroundings. Another type of retinal implant under development relies on having a microchip in the retina directly convert incoming light to electrical signals. Research subjects who have tried these sorts of visual prosthetics learn to interpret the visual patterns produced in order to perform basic functions unaided, such as navigate a room or read a clock.


Reviewed March 4, 2012
Lawrence Poree, MD, PhD
Member, International Neuromodulation Society
Professor, University of California School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesia, San Francisco CA, USA

Last Updated on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 12:04 PM