Pixium Vision, a company based in Paris, France, is reporting that its PRIMA wireless subretinal implants for people who lost their vision has shown a great deal of promise in a pre-clinical trial. The technology is designed specifically for those whose natural photoreceptors no longer function, yet who retain retinal neurons that can be electrically activated. A bunch of the implants are injected into the back of the eye, each around 70-μm in width that represents a single pixel. The implants are basically tiny photovoltaic solar panels that emit electricity in response to light hitting their surface.
At Stanford University these were implanted into the eyes of rats with retinal degeneration and demonstrated the ability to stimulate the retinal ganglion cells that are normally activated via healthy photoreceptors. Moreover, in functional tests the rats responded to images in front of them and when their retinal responses were sampled they showed activation equivalent to about half of normal vision. The scientists conclude in the study published in Nature Medicine that “the ease of implantation of these wireless and modular arrays, combined with their high resolution, opens the door to the functional restoration of sight in patients blinded by retinal degeneration.”
Pixium Vision animation showing how the PRIMA system works:
Study in Nature Medicine: Photovoltaic restoration of sight with high visual acuity…
(hat tip: Engadget)