Artificial vision with wirelessly powered subretinal electronic implant alpha-IMS

Katarina Stingl, Karl Ulrich Bartz-Schmidt, Dorothea Besch, Angelika Braun, Anna Bruckmann, Florian Gekeler, Udo Greppmaier, Stephanie Hipp, Gernot Hörtdörfer, Christoph Kernstock, Assen Koitschev, Akos Kusnyerik, Helmut Sachs, Andreas Schatz, Krunoslav T. Stingl, Tobias Peters, Barbara Wilhelm, Eberhart Zrenner

Abstract

This study aims at substituting the essential functions of photoreceptors in patients who are blind owing to untreatable forms of hereditary retinal degenerations. A microelectronic neuroprosthetic device, powered via transdermal inductive transmission, carrying 1500 independent microphotodiode-amplifier-electrode elements on a 9 mm2 chip, was subretinally implanted in nine blind patients. Light perception (8/9), light localization (7/9), motion detection (5/9, angular speed up to 35 deg s−1), grating acuity measurement (6/9, up to 3.3 cycles per degree) and visual acuity measurement with Landolt C-rings (2/9) up to Snellen visual acuity of 20/546 (corresponding to decimal 0.037 or corresponding to 1.43 logMAR (minimum angle of resolution)) were restored via the subretinal implant. Additionally, the identification, localization and discrimination of objects improved significantly (n = 8; p < 0.05 for each subtest) in repeated tests over a nine-month period. Three subjects were able to read letters spontaneously and one subject was able to read letters after training in an alternative-force choice test. Five subjects reported implant-mediated visual perceptions in daily life within a field of 15° of visual angle. Control tests were performed each time with the implant's power source switched off. These data show that subretinal implants can restore visual functions that are useful for daily life.

  • Received January 13, 2013.
  • Accepted January 25, 2013.
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© 2013 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

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