For twelve years, experts from different disciplines in the fields of microelectronics, neurophysics, information engineering, computer science, materials science and medicine have been working to develop a visual prosthetic device for patients who have lost their sight through diseases of the retina.
In September 2007, their effort was rewarded. In a clinical study including six patients, the team was able to demonstrate not only that a completely implantable vision prosthesis is technically feasible and proven functioning, but also that it enables patients to perceive visual images.
“For normally sighted people that may not seem much, but for the Blind, it is a major step,” comments Dr. Hoc Khiem Trieu from the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS in Duisburg. “After years of blindness, the patients were able to see spots of light or geometric patterns, depending on how the nerve cells were stimulated.”
Dr. Hoc Khiem Trieu has been involved from the outset of this project, which was funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research. Together with Dr. Ingo Krisch and Dipl.-Ing. Michael Görtz he translated the specifications given by the medical experts and material scientists into an implant and chip design. The scientists are to receive the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2008 for their work.
“A milestone was reached when the prosthetic system finally operated wirelessly and remotely controlled,” explains Dr. Ingo Krisch. “A great deal of detailed work was necessary before the implant could be activated without any external cable connections.” “The designs became smaller and smaller, the materials more flexible, more robust and higher in performance, so that the implant now fits comfortably in the eye,” reports Michael Görtz. The system benefits from a particular disease pattern, and it uses a specific operating principle to restore sight: Suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, the light sensitive cells are destroyed, but the connection of the nerve cells to the brain remains intact.
The scientists have bypassed the defects of the retina by means of a visual prosthesis. The complete system comprises the implant and an external transmitter integrated in a spectacle-frame. The implant system converts the image patterns into interpretable stimulation signals. Data and energy are transferred to the implant by a telemetric link. The nerve cells inside the eye are then stimulatedaccording to the captured images. Those intact cells are innervated by means of three-dimensional stimulation electrodes that rest against the retina like small studs.
Press Office | alfa
Münster researchers make a fly’s heartbeat visible / Software automatically recognizes pulse
12.03.2018 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
3-D-written model to provide better understanding of cancer spread
05.03.2018 | Purdue University
For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.
In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.03.2018 | Event News