Artificial organic light sensors could one day help lead to eye implants that integrate more naturally with the body to restore vision, researchers say.
Blindness often involves damage to the retina, the light-sensitive inner lining of the eye. For instance, retinitis pigmentosa, a group of inherited diseases that afflicts 1 in 4,000 people across the world, involves degeneration of the eye’s light-sensing cells, or photoreceptors.
Research teams worldwide are developing retinal prosthetics that seek to restore vision using electronics that essentially replace lost photoreceptors. In just one vein of study recently receiving attention, neuro-ophthalmologists at the University of Tuebingen in Germany have been implanting light-sensitive microchips within eyes that are helping patients recognize facial expressions and see the faces of their loved ones.
However, current retinal prosthetics typically use electrodes made of inorganic semiconductors like silicon to interface with the body.