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What is Artificial Retina Implant? A Solution to Blindness

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Artificial Retina Implant(ARI) is an emerging technology to restore the sense of vision to people with vision impairment due to retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.

Several countries funded billions of dollars to achieve 0% blindness in their country with the help of technology and innovation. This article covers the complete journey of the ARI technology to finding a solution to blindness.

Photo by Noelle Otto from Pexels

What is Artificial Retina Implants?

Retina implant is a bioelectric device which involves the use of microelectronics and microchip electrodes surgically implanted into the back of the eye (retina) to restore the function of the damaged light-activated cells.

How Artificial Retina Implant Works?

Normal vision begins when light enters and moves through the eye to strike specialized photoreceptor (light-receiving) cells in the retina called rods and cones.

These cells convert light signals to electric impulses that are sent to the optic nerve and the brain.

Retinal diseases like age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa destroy vision by annihilating these cells.

When an artificial retina implanted in the eyes, the photoreceptor cells presented inside the retina implant will respond to light and convert it to an electrical signal which is passed to nerve cells in the eye, and then ultimately to the brain where it is perceived as vision.

The Artificial Retina Project

The Artificial retina project was initiated by The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) with the help of several collaboratives and multi-institutional effort.

The aim of the project is to develop an implantable microelectronic retinal prosthesis that restores useful vision to people blinded by retinal diseases.

The ultimate goal of the project was to restore reading ability, facial recognition, and unaided mobility in people with retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration.

Challenges in ARI

One of the problems with electrical stimulation of the retina is that the electrodes need to be as small as possible to only stimulate a few nerve cells.

Another problem is that nearby nerve cells can be stimulated as a side effect. Both of these problems lead to poor resolution.

Successful ARI Projects

There are two ARI projects appears to succeed in the future having undergone multicentre human trials, one is the Argus II electronic epiretinal device (Second Sight Medical Products, CA, USA) and another one is the Alpha-IMS electronic subretinal device (Retina Implant AG, Germany).

Argus II

Argus retinal prosthesis, also known as a bionic eye, is an electronic retinal implant manufactured by the American company Second Sight Medical Products. It is used as a visual prosthesis to improve the vision of people with severe cases of retinitis pigmentosa.


The Alpha IMS is a subretinal microchip consisting of a 3×3 mm2 microchip with 1,500 electrodes, more electrodes than any other device being used in humans, implanted beneath the retina, specifically in the macular region.

Difference between Argus II and Alpha-IMS

Argus II uses an external camera with an image processor to convert an image into electrical impulses for ganglion cell stimulation.

Whereas the Alpha-IMS directly senses intraocular light and converts it to electrical energy using an amplifier and contrast unit to control the intensity of the stimulation.

Hope, the article helps you to understand about the Artificial Retina Implant technology and ongoing projects.

Thank you!


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