Researchers at the Boston Retinal Implant Program have successfully developed a prototype for a retina replacement device. The bionic device is the size of a pencil eraser. The device, which is implanted behind the retina at the back of the eyeball, works as a light transmitter. Only patients who were once able to see and have partially intact optic nerve cells are eligible for the procedure. People who are blind from birth or suffer from glaucoma are not.
The implant will not restore perfect vision, but will provide patients with a sense of their surroundings - to detect shapes and obstacles in their pathways. The team hopes to enhance the device such that patients will someday be able to recognize objects, faces and general detail.