While the field of retinal prostheses is still in its infancy, for hundreds of users around the globe, the “bionic eye” enriches the way they interact with the world on a daily basis. For instance, seeing outlines of objects enables them to move around unfamiliar environments with increased safety.
That is just the start. Researchers are seeking future improvements upon the technology, with an ambitious objective in mind.
“Our goal now is to develop systems that truly mimic the complexity of the retina,” said Gianluca Lazzi, PhD, MBA, a Provost Professor of Ophthalmology and Electrical Engineering at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
He and his USC colleagues cultivated progress with a pair of recent studies using an advanced computer model of what happens in the retina. Their experimentally validated model reproduces the shapes and positions of millions of nerve cells in the eye, as well as the physical and networking properties associated with them.