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Solar Powered Retina Implant

Solar Powered Retina Implant

Stanford scientists developing new solar powered retinal implant…

Early this year two British men who had been blind for over 20 years were given back their sight thanks to electronic retinal implants.

In hope to further the technology scientists at Stanford University have invented a similar implant, which runs completely from solar power, instead of a battery.

The new device could help make the bionic retina easier to implant, more discreet and easier to maintain.

The new design incorporates a pair of glasses that beams infrared light into the eye to power the implant and send information to the brain.

solar powered retinal implant

Solar Powered Retinal Implant

Previous retinal implants requires the use of external battery and must be wired from the eye to the back of the ear where the battery connects via a magnet.

Stanford’s new device cuts out complex electronics and wiring in place of a small camera mounted on the glasses. Since the light entering the eye is not sufficient to power the implant, the camera boosts the light 1000 times. This generates a signal, which is passed on the optical nerve and brain.

The researchers said: “Because the photovoltaic implant is thin and wireless, the surgical procedure is much simpler than in other retinal prosthetic approaches.

“Such a fully integrated wireless implant promises the restoration of useful vision to patients blinded by degenerative retinal diseases.”

So far the implant has only been tested in rats, however the team is confident it will work in humans and hope the procedure could be used to treat the most common form of blindness, age-related macular degeneration.

The research was published in the Journal Nature, April 2012.


  1. James Gallagher: Light-powered bionic eye invented to help restore sight. BBC, 05/14/2012.

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