The retina is a thin layer of neural tissue that lines the back wall inside
the eye. Some of these cells act to receive light, while others interpret the
information and send messages to the brain through the optic nerve. This is part
of the process that enables us to see. In damaged or dysfunctional retina, the
photoreceptors stop working, causing blindness. By some estimates, there are more
than 10 million people worldwide affected by retinal diseases that lead to loss
absence of effective therapeutic remedies for retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related
macular degeneration (AMD) has motivated the development of experimental strategies
to restore some degree of visual function to affected patients. Because the remaining
retinal layers are anatomically spared, several approaches have been designed
to artificially activate this residual retina and thereby the visual system.
present, two general strategies have been pursued. The "Epiretinal"
approach involves a semiconductor-based device placed above the retina, close
to or in contact with the nerve fiber layer retinal ganglion cells. The information
in this approach must be captured by a camera system before transmitting data
and energy to the implant. The "Sub retinal" approach involves the electrical
stimulation of the inner retina from the sub retinal space by implantation of
a semiconductor-based micro photodiode array (MPA) into this location. The concept
of the sub retinal approach is that electrical charge generated by the MPA in
response to a light stimulus may be used to artificially alter the membrane potential
of neurons in the remaining retinal layers in a manner to produce formed images.
Some researchers have developed an implant system where a video camera captures
images, a chip processes the images, and an electrode array transmits the images
to the brain. It's called Cortical Implants.
The human visual system is remarkable instrument.
It features two mobile acquisition units each has formidable preprocessing circuitry
placed at a remote location from the central processing system (brain). Its primary
task include transmitting images with a viewing angle of at least 140deg and resolution
of 1 arc min over a limited capacity carrier, the million or so fibers in each
optic nerve through these fibers the signals are passed to the so called higher
visual cortex of the brain
nerve system can achieve this type of high volume data transfer by confining such
capability to just part of the retina surface, whereas the center of the retina
has a 1:1 ration between the photoreceptors and the transmitting elements, the
far periphery has a ratio of 300:1. This results in gradual shift in resolution
and other system parameters.
At the brain's highest level the visual cortex
an impressive array of feature extraction mechanisms can rapidly adjust the eye's
position to sudden movements in the peripherals filed of objects too small to
se when stationary. The visual system can resolve spatial depth differences by
combining signals from both eyes with a precision less than one tenth the size
of a single photoreceptor.
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