In some diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration, the light-sensitive cells of the retina, the photoreceptors, are lost while the cells of the optic nerve, the retinal ganglion cells, remain.
Since the ganglion cells are the output of the retina, if we can stimulate them directly, we can restore visual input to the brain even without replacing the photoreceptors.
The retina converts light into neural signals for processing by the brain
Photoreceptors are light-sensitive cells that absorb light and convert it into information
Once light is converted into information, it gets passed onto a layer of intermediate neurons
The intermediate neurons connect to the retinal ganglion cells which project into the brain and form the optic nerve
The Science Eye is a "combination device" with two key components:
Optogenetic gene therapy
A protein nanoparticle is used to deliver a gene to some of the retinal ganglion (optic nerve) cells, making them light-sensitive at a specific wavelength.
High-resolution display film
A tiny, flexible high-resolution display film is surgically inserted over the retina to allow fine control of the newly light-sensitive ganglion cells.
The electronics package is similar in size to glaucoma shunts widely used today, which are routinely inserted without general anesthesia and can't be felt by patients once inserted.
- Science Electronic Package
- Ahmed Valve
- Baerveldt Shunt
Glasses worn by the user contain sensors, processing, and batteries which supply power and data to the implant.
Resonant inductive coil for wireless power
Infrared optical data connection with implant
Receiving a Science Eye is a straightforward three-part procedure
The implant is slid in over the eye and the display is inserted through a small incision
The implant is secured in place and the display is laid on the retina
The display film is affixed to the retina to hold it in place