Scientists have been working on artificial retinas
for years, and while the main focus of research has been to increase the amount of light captured, a study led by Sheila Nirenberg, PhD, has taken a different tack. The new system being devised at Weill Cornell Medical College better mimics frontline photoreceptor cells, making it easier for the ganglion cells to output a more accurate image. "If you want to really restore normal vision, you have to know the retina's code," Nirenberg said. "Once you have that, the door is open to the possibility of restoring normal vision." When researchers performed tests with mice, they found that those with the new system reconstructed more details (the second image, above) than those without (image three, above). "Incorporating the [more accurate] code jumped the system's performance up to normal levels - that is, there was enough information to reconstruct faces, newsprint, landscapes, essentially anything," Nirenberg said. The next step? Coordinating with other researchers to test the technology on human participants.