Artificial Photoreceptors Return Vision to Blind Mice

Blindness in many people is caused by diseased rod and cone cells within the retina that are responsible for turning light into electric signals. If these photoreceptor cells don’t function correctly, even an otherwise perfectly healthy eye won’t produce quality vision. There are technologies out there that bypass photoreceptors entirely, but that involves bulky technology and the results are far from perfect.

Now a team from Fudan University in China has come up with a way of replacing the photoreceptors with gold/titanium oxide nanowire arrays, which function much like the cells they replace.

The artificial photoreceptors are made of titanium rods that have specs of gold peppered over their exterior. They’re implanted into the eye during a surgical procedure. The implants convert light into electrical signals, passing the generated electricity onto existing retinal cells.

So far this technology was successfully demonstrated in laboratory mice whose photoreceptor cells were allowed to degrade. Hopefully the same can be attempted in humans, potentially reversing blindness in millions of people.

Open access article in Nature Communications: Nanowire arrays restore vision in blind mice…