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Brandon Bosse, Samir Damle, Abraham Akinin, Yi Jing, Dirk-Uwe Bartsch, Lingyun Cheng, Nicholas Oesch, Yu-Hwa Lo, Gert Cauwenberghs, William R. Freeman; In Vivo Photovoltaic Performance of a Silicon Nanowire Photodiode–Based Retinal Prosthesis. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(15):5885-5892. doi: 10.1167/iovs.18-24554.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
For more than 20 years, there has been an international, multidisciplinary effort to develop retinal prostheses to restore functional vision to patients blinded by retinal degeneration. We developed a novel subretinal prosthesis with 1512 optically addressed silicon nanowire photodiodes, which transduce incident light into an electrical stimulation of the remaining retinal circuitry. This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of optically driving the subretinal prosthesis to produce visual cortex activation via electrical stimulation of the retina.
We measured electrically evoked potential responses (EEPs) in rabbit visual cortex in response to illumination of the subretinal nanowire prosthesis with pulsed 852-nm infrared (IR) light. We compared the EEP responses to visually evoked potential responses (VEPs) to pulsed 532-nm visible light (positive control) and pulsed 852-nm IR light (negative control).
Activating the devices with IR light produced EEP responses with a significantly higher trough-to-peak amplitude (54.17 ± 33.4 μV) than IR light alone (24.07 ± 22.1 μV) or background cortical activity (23.22 ± 17.2 μV). EEP latencies were significantly faster than focal VEP latencies. Focal VEPs produced significantly higher amplitudes (94.88 ± 43.3 μV) than EEPs. We also demonstrated how an electrode placed on the cornea can be used as a noninvasive method to monitor the function of the implant.
These results show that subretinal electrical stimulation with nanowire electrodes can elicit EEPs in the visual cortex, providing evidence for the viability of a subretinal nanowire prosthetic approach for vision restoration.
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