New Research being developed at Stanford

Tiny, light-sensitive chips developed by Stanford researchers could one day restore sight to the blind

Millions of people are slowly losing their vision to diseases of the retina, such as age-related macular degeneration. Now, a device more than a decade in the making may help some of them see again.

Clinical trials started last month, and so far three patients have been implanted with the device. Those surgeries went well, Palanker said, and patients report seeing bright white patterns in their formerly damaged areas, within the resolution limits researchers had expected. Thorough testing is now being conducted to assess the quality of this prosthetic vision, including how well patients can make out various shapes and letters.

Age-related macular degeneration, a disease that slowly degrades light-sensitive cells in the retina, is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among people 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Doctors can’t prevent such loss of sight – but a system that replaces light-sensitive cells designed by Daniel Palanker, a professor of ophthalmology, may ease the burden

Professor Daniel Palanker works with CS senior Jack Boffa on software for simulation of prosthetic vision and for augmented reality goggles which activate the retinal implant.

The device – a combination of image-processing goggles and tiny silicon chips implanted in the retina – has been more than a decade in the making. Although the device’s resolution is not yet where its designers hope to get it – currently the technology can only reach 20/200 vision, which is not enough to read clearly or drive safely – a five-patient feasibility study has begun in Paris, with a second planned later in the year in the Eastern United States.
“We published the first concept paper of how we would approach this 12 years ago, and now we’ve validated in human patients basically all the key assumptions we made on the way,” said Palanker, who is also the director of the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory and a member of Stanford Bio-X and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute.

Too many wires

Palanker had been interested in how eyes function since his graduate studies in applied physics. Until the early 2000s, most of Palanker’s research focused on the use of lasers in eye surgery…..
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Source: News Stanford Edu