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A new implant will help restore vision lost with age

Scientists have conducted the first test of a new device that can help people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It affects about 200 million people worldwide every year and causes them to gradually lose their central vision. It becomes difficult for them to read, recognize faces and independently navigate in space.

The cause of VJP is the poor functioning of photoreceptors in the center of the retina. These cells must pick up photons of light and send signals to neurons that enter the brain, which then forms an image. When photoreceptors do not work well, the brain does not receive the necessary information and, accordingly, cannot build the correct picture. The new implant, measuring just 2 mm, is able to pick up electrical signals and send them to the brain, bringing perception back to the center of the visual field.

“We are replacing the photoreceptors lost in macular degeneration with special pixels activated by invisible light projected from augmented reality goggles. The fact that patients were able to see a coherent image is good news, as all previous retinal transplants have resulted in severe visual distortions,” said Daniel Balanquer, lead author of the study.

To test the new device, five elderly people over 60 years of age were selected who had advanced forms of ADHD. Their internal retinal neurons had severe functional damage, so they were ideal candidates. A few months after the implant was inserted, the subjects' perception of light patterns in the center of the visual field improved significantly.

The implants have grown into the eyes and gradually began to improve even peripheral vision. Now patients are able to distinguish large letters. Scientists want to improve their design and achieve greater efficiency of the device in order to improve visual acuity.


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