March 2012
Volume 53, Issue 14
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   March 2012
Overview of Progress on the 256+ Channel Boston Retinal Prosthesis
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Joseph F. Rizzo, III
    Ophthalmology, Mass Eye & Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Jinghua Chen
    Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Douglas B. Shire
    Boston VA Medical Center, Ctr for Innovative Visual Rehabilitation, Ithaca, New York
  • Shawn K. Kelly
    Center for Innovative Visual Rehab, VA Boston Healthcare System, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • William D. Eldred
    Biology, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
  • William K. Jones
    Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Florida International University, Miami, Florida
  • Patrick Doyle
    Boston VA Medical Center, Ctr for Innovative Visual Rehab, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Marcus D. Gingerich
    ECE, CIVR-VA Boston Hlthcare System/Cornell U, Ithaca, New York
  • John L. Wyatt
    Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  Joseph F. Rizzo, III, None; Jinghua Chen, None; Douglas B. Shire, None; Shawn K. Kelly, None; William D. Eldred, None; William K. Jones, None; Patrick Doyle, None; Marcus D. Gingerich, None; John L. Wyatt, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  VA Grant C4266C, VA Grant A7078R, VA Grant C7055L, NIH Grants 1-R01-HL090856-01A1 and EY016674, Massachusetts Lions Eye Research Fund, Cornell Nanoscale Facility (NSF)
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science March 2012, Vol.53, 1313. doi:
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      Joseph F. Rizzo, III, Jinghua Chen, Douglas B. Shire, Shawn K. Kelly, William D. Eldred, William K. Jones, Patrick Doyle, Marcus D. Gingerich, John L. Wyatt; Overview of Progress on the 256+ Channel Boston Retinal Prosthesis. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(14):1313.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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This work is related to the efforts of the Boston Retinal Implant Project to develop a sub-retinal prosthesis to restore vision to the blind. The goal of this presentation is to provide an update of the status of the high-density 256+ channel Boston retinal prosthesis.


The high-density Boston device includes a custom-designed application-specific IC chip and a hermetic Ti case to support 256+ channels. The chip and the package have been tested in vitro, and the entire assembly has been implanted into two mini-pigs, using a unique and newly-developed coiled-cable electrode array. Custom surgical tools were also refined for the new implants. In separate animal studies, the Boston team has also implanted sub-retinal penetrating electrode arrays and compared OCT scans of such arrays to ex vivo histological data.


The IC drives electrodes with bi-phasic current pulses when commanded by an external controller and frequency-shift keyed radio transmitter, and human safety protocols for data transmission have been refined. The hermetic package for the device has been welded and leak tested. In vivo implantation with the coiled-cable electrode array reduced the surgical time and improved the degrees of freedom to enter the sub-retinal space. In studies of penetrating electrode arrays, immunohistochemical studies showed modest GFAP and microglial reactions without evidence of glial encasement.


Advancements in circuit design, packaging, array design, surgical tools and techniques have put the development of the 256+ channel Boston retinal prosthesis on pace for in vivo validation of function in 2012.  

Keywords: retina • neuro-ophthalmology: cortical function/rehabilitation • quality of life 

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