Nano Retina’s Bio-Retina is one of two recent attempts to help patients with age-related macular degeneration, which affects 1.5 million people in the U.S. Although a similar implant, Second Sight’s Argus II, has been on the market in Europe since last year, it requires a four-hour operation under full anesthesia because it includes an antenna to receive power and images from an external apparatus. The Bio-Retina implant is smaller because it doesn’t have an antenna. Instead, the implant captures images directly in the eye, and a laser powers the implant remotely. Because of Bio-Retina’s compact size, an ophthalmologist can insert it through a small incision in the eye in 30 minutes—potentially more appropriate for seniors. The Bio-Retina will generate a 576-pixel grayscale image. And clinical trials could begin as soon as next year.
Ordinary-looking glasses contain a battery, a power-delivering laser apparatus and working lenses (to help with vision problems such as nearsightedness and astigmatism).
The near-infrared laser beam, gentle enough to shine harmlessly through the eye onto the implant, provides up to three milliwatts of power to a photovoltaic cell on the eye implant. The light is invisible, so it won’t interfere with sight.
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