Blind World Magazine

Chip To Restore Sight To The Blind.

Andrea Moore - All Headline News Staff Reporter.
All Headline News - USA.
April 24, 2006.

Chicago, IL (AHN) - Researchers say a solar-powered chip that stimulates retinal cells by spraying them with neurotransmitters could restore sight to blind people.

Unlike other implants under development that apply an electric charge directly to retinal cells, the solar-powered chip does not cause the cells to heat up and does not need external batteries.

The retina lines the back and sides of the eyeball and contains photoreceptor cells that release signalling chemicals called neurotransmitters in response to light. In people with retinal diseases, the photoreceptors become damaged, ultimately causing blindness.

Last year, engineer Laxman Saggere of the University of Illinois at Chicago unveiled plans for an implant that would replace these damaged photoreceptors with a set of neurotransmitter pumps that respond to light. He has now built a solar-powered actuator that flexes in response to the very low-intensity light that strikes the retina. Multiple actuators on a single chip pick up the details of the image focused on the retina, allowing some "pixels" to be passed on to the brain.

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