Gallery: Solar-Powered Eye Implant Gives Sight to the Blind

photovoltaic cells, mini solar device, mini photovoltaic cells, photovoltaic artificial retina, artificial retina, implant device, stanford university

Researchers at Stanford University recently announced that they have developed a new artificial retina implant that uses photovoltaic power and could help the blind see. The problem with previous implants was that there was no way send power to the chip in order to process light and data inside the eye. Now, miniature photovoltaic cells are being used to provide power to the chip as well as to transmit data through the eye to the brain. The new device has great promise to help people afflicted by the loss of photoreceptor cells by using the power of the sun.

The device is placed behind the retina and is essentially an array of mini solar devices. In addition, the system utilizes is an external video camera that captures images, a pocket pc to process the video feed, and a bright near-infrared LCD display built into video goggles, which transmit infrared light pulses to the photovoltaic device in the eye. The light pulses then produce electricity in the device, which transmits data through the eye so the brain can process it into a hazy picture.

The implant is built to a width of 3 mm wide and 0.03 mm thick, and includes 3 layers of flexible photovoltaic cells mounted with silicon posts. This new system is capable of producing vision of 20/200, which is beyond what is considered legally blind, but the researchers reasonable expect to achieve 20/100, which would produce a picture clear enough that a person could recognize faces and read large print.

+ Standford University, Ophthalmology Department

IEEE Spectrum via Gizmodo

lead photo by istockphoto, diagrams courtesy of Stanford University


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  1. Larry Warner May 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    How old were the people this was tried on? My wife is 91 and wishes so badly to have some sight . She only sees light darkness and shadows.

  2. Inspiring Green Technol... September 13, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    […] Photovoltaic Device Gives Sight to the Blind […]

  3. jeanX December 30, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Re: solar-implants, how is this going to help the blind ‘see’?
    I mean, ‘see’ as sighted people?
    Even though this is a prototype,
    I don’t think this is ‘seeing’.

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