'Artificial retina' could restore sight, researchers say

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A new “prosthetic retina” technology could be a breakthrough in the quest to restore vision to seniors with macular degeneration, an international team of researchers announced Tuesday.

The “revolutionary” approach uses semiconductor nanorods and carbon nanotubes to create a film that could replace a damaged retina, according to the investigators.

“The new prosthetic is compact, unlike previous designs that used wires or metals while attempting to sense light,” stated lead researcher Yael Hanein, Ph.D., of Tel Aviv University's School of Electrical Engineering. Other authors were affiliated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Newcastle University in England.

While a device for humans is not imminent, the investigators have used chick retinas to show that their artificial retina responds to light by triggering neuronal activity. Full findings appear in Nano Letters.

Drugs that slow vision loss significantly reduce nursing home admissions among people with age-related wet macular degeneration, according to findings released by Duke University in March.