A thin-film optogenetic visual prosthesis

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Retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration lead to photoreceptor death and loss of visual perception. Despite recent progress, restorative technologies for photoreceptor degeneration remain largely unavailable. Here, we describe a novel optogenetic visual prosthesis (FlexLED) based on a combination of a thin-film retinal display and optogenetic activation of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). The FlexLED implant is a 30 µm thin, flexible, wireless µLED display with 8,192 pixels, each with an emission area of 66 µm 2 . The display is affixed to the retinal surface, and the electronics package is mounted under the conjunctiva in the form factor of a conventional glaucoma drainage implant. In a rabbit model of photoreceptor degeneration, optical stimulation of the retina using the FlexLED elicits activity in visual cortex. This technology is readily scalable to hundreds of thousands of pixels, providing a route towards an implantable optogenetic visual prosthesis capable of generating vision by stimulating RGCs at near-cellular resolution.

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  1. Schematic of experimental approach: New Zealand white rabbits are implanted with a chronic32-channel ECoG grid over visual cortex, and visually-evoked potentials are recorded as highcontrast stimuli are presented using a monitor.

    I've really enjoyed reading this paper, learned a lot about optigenetics and ocular implanted devices. I'm curious how you plan to validate the effectiveness of these devices in animals and what kinds of assays would make the most sense.