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Artificial Retina - University of Oxford

University Of Oxford Researchers Develop Artificial Retina

Given how fragile the windows to our souls are, it is a wonder that our eyes don't fracture more often. And because they're such sensitive and sophisticated things, when they do get damaged, it takes a great deal of care to fix them

Led by doctoral student Vanessa Restrepo-Schild of the University of Oxford, the team developed a synthetic, biocompatible, soft-tissue retina that is a step forward for bionic implants. It may offer a safer way to bring vision back to visually impaired people. The artificial retina functions in a manner similar to a natural retina. It is designed like a camera, the cells act as pixels, detecting and reacting to light to create a grey scale image. The researcher says that the synthetic material can generate electrical signals, which might stimulate the neurons at the back of our eye just like the original retina. Earlier, hard materials were used for retinal research. Due to the inherent sensitivity of our eyes, hard materials are less than ideal for implants, since they don't suit the fluid, flexible environment of our eyes and can often lead to inflammation. By combining biological cell-membrane proteins with droplets of water and a hydrogel scaffold, Restrepo-Schild created an artificial retina that functions much like our natural ones.


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