Nano-implant: a way to restore sight in patients

So many people around the world suffer from neurodegenerative disorders that impact their eyesight such as retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, and loss of vision owing to diabetes. Constant research is been done to prevent and cure eyesight issue. The research has taken a great pace in recent years but still, the performance of the existing devices is very restricted.

Collaboration between Nanovision Biosciences Inc. and the University of California San Diego has resulted in a use of wireless electronics and nanotechnology to design a new form of a retinal prosthesis that can bring research a step forward to re-establish the capability of the retinal neurons to react to light. The team illustrated this reaction to light in the retina of a rat interfacing with a model of the device in vitro.

The new prosthesis depends on 2 revolutionary technologies. The first involves a series of silicon nanowires that can concurrently sense light and then consequently activate the retina electrically. The nanowires offer the prosthesis with higher resolution compared to that provided by other devices. The other innovation includes is a wireless device that can send data and power to the nanowires through the same wireless connection.

However, there is a difference between the existing retinal prosthesis and the prototype by the team. The new device doesn’t need a vision sensor to record a visual sight outside the eye and then convert it into sporadic signals to consecutively excite retinal neurons. Instead, the silicon nanowires imitate the light-sensing rods & cones of the retina to directly activate retinal cells. Nanowires are packaged into a framework of electrodes that can be stimulated by light and mechanized by a sole wireless electrical signal. The power supplied to the nanowires gives the light-stimulated electrodes their elevated sensitivity at the same time manipulating the stimulation timing.

The team is working to further enhance and hence use this technology in a clinical setting with the aim of helping patients to restore their functional vision that is lost due to severe retinal degeneration. The device is at present being tested on animals and soon will be evaluated in clinical trials.

This would be a ground-breaking technology once completely established.

Ankit Kadam is a content writer working at Medical Device News. He is in the professional writing business since 1 year. He has hands on experience in writing product description, technological reviews, and marketing materials. He earns to travel and lives to explore. He can be reached at