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Bio-Retina to enter clinical trials in 2013

Israeli company Nano Retina, Inc. is developing an ultra-small, easy to implant, artificial retina designed to restore sight.

The Implant consisting of nano electrodes, electronic circuitry, photo-sensors, and IR recipient circuits

Restoring eyesight to the blind has, until now, mainly been the province of science fiction, exemplified by futuristic devices featured in popular movies and TV shows such as The Six Million Dollar Man and Star Trek.

Nano Retina is aiming to make sight restoration a reality.

“Let there be light…”

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy are among the causes of degenerative blindness. According to the National Federation of the Blind, 50,000 people in the United States go blind annually. In addition, there are currently 3.6 million Americans aged 40 and older who are legally blind; this number will rise as baby boomers continue to age.

In a procedure lasting no longer than 30 minutes, the implant is attached to the retina.

Fast Forward to the Future: Nano Retina’s Bio-Retina

Nano Retina, a joint venture of Zyvex Labs and Rainbow Medical is developing Bio-Retina, a bionic retina designed to restore sight to those suffering from retinal degenerative diseases. Bio-Retina incorporates various nano-size components in one tiny, flat implant, approximating the size of a child’s fingernail bed. Its simple 30-minute implant procedure requires local anesthesia, a small incision and “gluing” of the device to the damaged retina. Return of sight is anticipated to be instantaneous: 24x24 with the first generation and 72x72 with the second generation product (see illustrative pictures below), enabling persons who have undergone the procedure to watch TV and identify faces. Recovery time is estimated at up to one week.

Return of sight: 24x24 with the first generation and 72x72 with the second generation product

How Bio-Retina Works

Bio-Retina is designed to replace the damaged photoreceptor in the eye with the equivalent of a 600 pixel (first generation) or 5,000 pixel (second generation) retinal implant. Bio-Retina transforms naturally received light into an electrical signal that stimulates the neurons, which send the pictures received by Bio-Retina to the brain. Bio-Retina works harmoniously with the natural functionalities of the eye, including pupil dilation and eyeball movement. Patients will be able to look from side to side with their eyes rather than needing to turn their heads, as required by competing technologies. A rechargeable, battery-powered mini laser, situated on a pair of eyeglasses, efficiently powers the implant wirelessly.

An infrared beam from special (rechargeable) high glasses keeps the implant charged.











In recent years, less than half a dozen efforts, funded by government grants (U.S., German, Australian, Japanese and Korean) and private capital, have been made to restore some measure of sight to the blind. Systems currently being researched require general anesthesia and a six hour operation to implant surgically, construct and connect multiple pieces of hardware in the eye, or alternatively, to insert surgically an implant into the eye which is connected to a wire passing through the patient’s skull. Patients wear eyeglasses with an external camera and transmitter as well as a belt with a video processor and battery that charges the system. The patient is able to see forward, but must move the head to change the field of view. These systems provide up to 60 pixels of sight capacity (less than 10x10 as illustrated in the picture above), i.e. a patient can differentiate between dark and light and perhaps identify the existence of an object.



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