Using tiny solar-panel-like cells surgically placed underneath the retina, scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have devised a system that may someday restore sight to people who have lost vision because of certain types of degenerative eye diseases.
This device — a new type of retinal prosthesis — involves a specially designed pair of goggles, which are equipped with a miniature camera and a pocket PC designed to process the visual data stream. The resulting images would be displayed on a liquid crystal microdisplay embedded in the goggles, similar to what’s used in video goggles for gaming, corresponding to approximately 30 degrees of visual field.
Unlike the regular video goggles, though, the images would be beamed from the LCD using laser pulses of near-infrared light to a photovoltaic array on a silicon chip — one-third as thin as a strand of hair — implanted beneath the retina. It would have 25 micron (millionths of a meter, about 1/1000th of an inch) pixels, each containing a ~10 micron stimulating electrode.