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Artificial Retina Is Solar Powered

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Elizabeth M
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Innovations in the medical field
Elizabeth M   9/26/2013 6:18:44 AM
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Some of the most interesting technological innovations are happening in the field of medical, and involve the use of nanotechnology. This artificial retina is a prime example. The ability to restore full sight to someone who has lost it is quite an incredible proposition, and to use a renewable energy source to power the device shows real forward thinking as well. So not only does this invention have the potential to do good for a patient, but it also is environmentally friendly.

TJ McDermott
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Re: Innovations in the medical field
TJ McDermott   9/27/2013 1:21:29 AM
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Wow.  Just, WOW!

I hesitate to ask (because I'll just make myself queasy), but curiosity is always going to win out.

It sounds like this artificial retina gets implanted inside the eye, back against the existing retina?  Or is it part of an entire artificial eye?

We can look beyond the horizon (if you'll permit a turn of phrase) to what might be added to this technology in the future.  Laser range finder (the idea of lasers shooting out of one's eyes is too good to pass up)?  Autozooming?  Image capturing?

 

eunice12
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Re: Innovations in the medical field
eunice12   9/27/2013 2:34:26 PM
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TJ McDerdermott. They said it is to replace rod and cone damage so is not part of a whole new artificial eye. Doing an entire eye would be really complicated. My previous posts were to the other 2 posters above yours, but hitting reply doesn't work.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Innovations in the medical field
Elizabeth M   9/30/2013 5:20:29 AM
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This is a good question, TJ, and I think another person asked it as well. I honestly don't know the answer so will have to ask the company about this. Stay tuned.

shehan
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Re: Innovations in the medical field
shehan   9/30/2013 12:03:12 PM
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@McDermott – I think it's all about planting the artificial retina on the actual one. I am sure we will have an electronic eye ball very soon. 

etmax
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Re: Innovations in the medical field
etmax   9/28/2013 4:13:25 AM
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Thanks for another interesting post. I wonder how they will get 1million+ nerves on a spherical curved surface to match up with what looks like a flat surface?

Elizabeth M
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Re: Innovations in the medical field
Elizabeth M   9/30/2013 5:08:56 AM
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Thank you, etmax. I did enjoy writing about this because of the possibility it has to really help people. Your question is an excellent one for the designers of this invention. I will pass it along and see what they say.

jmiller
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Re: Innovations in the medical field
jmiller   9/30/2013 10:31:58 PM
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I agree. I know people that have problems with 2D/3D and this and I can't imagine how this would impact that.

briantutt
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Re: Innovations in the medical field
briantutt   9/28/2013 2:08:17 PM
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I am a design engineer by trade.  My wife lost the central vision in her left eye because part of the retina died in an occular stroke.  I have often wondered if someone was going to invent some sort of lens that could divert the light coming through the lens to other parts of the retina to give people like her vision back.  This article on retina replacement if facinating.  It gives hope that she may be able to regain sight again.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Innovations in the medical field
Elizabeth M   9/30/2013 5:07:19 AM
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Thank you for your comment, briantutt. I really find it gratifying to write about technologies like this that can really help people, and the thought that this invention could help your wife regain her vision is a really positive one. Technology really is providing cures for things that would've never been possible in the past. I do hope sometime your wife gets the treatment she needs with the help of such inventions.

dbell5
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Re: Innovations in the medical field
dbell5   10/2/2013 4:10:56 PM
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Yes, "Wow!" is exactly right!  I had a detached retina, followed by multiple surgeries, vitrectomies, lens removed, etc. Eventually regained some rather distorted sight in that eye (fortunately not my dominant one), then the macula blew out, for no discernible reason. Now, I have some peripheral vision, but no longer wear the +10 diopter contact required to focus it, and have a large "blind spot" in the center.

This prosthesis promises to reconnect to the remaining nerves below the retina ("sub-retinal implant", per Dr. Flood) and could actually restore my central sight. Amazing!

@briantutt: Excellent idea, to divert (it would only take a bit of prism) central images to working periperal retina. I'm afraid the brain would never learn to "fuse" that image with the other eye, but it would still be much more than I have now...

Dave

briantutt
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Re: Innovations in the medical field
briantutt   10/2/2013 4:24:37 PM
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I read about a study where early night vision technology "flipped" your vision over.  so they experimented with glasses that flipped your vision.  One group in the study never took the flipped vision glasses off and over a rather short period of time their brains "flipped" the image back so they where seeing normal again even with the glasses on.  This is why I think maybe the brain would sort out the vision mismatch over time.

shehan
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Re: Innovations in the medical field
shehan   9/30/2013 12:01:33 PM
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@Elizabeth – It's nice to see electrical equipment helping medical innovation over and over again. Thanks for sharing the great article.

jmiller
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Re: Innovations in the medical field
jmiller   9/30/2013 10:50:15 PM
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I think it's just amazing what engineers are coming up with when it comes to being able to reeplace body parts that have failed with ones that work.  It is also a little scary because how far does the technology go.  Does it eventually make something that is better than what we already have. 

greenewr
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How is the device connected to the nerves?
greenewr   9/27/2013 10:15:40 AM
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No mention of how the nanotubes will be connected to the nerves.  My understanding of biological implants is that this is the point were most systems don't function well.  Nerve connections for relativly simpler systems like artificial hands are not that great yet, and here were talking about nerves that connect to rods and cones.

eunice12
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Re: How is the device connected to the nerves?
eunice12   9/27/2013 2:21:52 PM
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EnteroMedics implants a device that sends messages into the stomach's vagus nerve to deal with obesity and is doing FDA trials now. The device affect the vagus nerve which messages the brain advising whether the stomach is full etc. The hope is the device can make the brain think the stomach is full when not and send messages to other parts of the body that respond when a person is hungry.

They have been at it for years so there is no answer yet if it will get a good outcome.

shehan
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Re: How is the device connected to the nerves?
shehan   9/30/2013 12:05:51 PM
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@greenewr – We are talking about a very complex system, the human body itself is a miracle. Technology will defiantly take some time to replace each part of our body just perfectly. 

Orin Laney
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Photon source matters
Orin Laney   9/27/2013 1:17:39 PM
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Light powered makes sense but not solar powered.  Surely the implant design does not require the recipient to stare at the sun. 

eunice12
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Re: Photon source matters
eunice12   9/27/2013 2:11:21 PM
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Dr. Flood is no dummy. No one said they had to stare at the sun. Light can come from the same source your eye gets it from. There is a tiny amount of electricity needed to make sight.

Orin Laney
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Re: Photon source matters
Orin Laney   9/27/2013 2:54:14 PM
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The terminology is wrong, not the science.  Look up "solar" in the dictionary to understand the problem with the choice of word.  Hence, "light powered" is correct, but "solar powered" is not -- unless the person happens to be viewing actual sunlight, e.g. "staring at the sun".

Elizabeth M
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Re: Photon source matters
Elizabeth M   9/30/2013 5:17:42 AM
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Even though I wrote the story and used the term, Orin, I do think you're right. I didn't feel quite right saysing "solar-powered." Although in a way, doesn't all the natural light on the earth come from the sun? Even on an overcast or rainy day, isn't the sun responsible for light? So while I completely see your point, I think an argument might be made for the other side as well.

shehan
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Re: Photon source matters
shehan   9/30/2013 12:09:29 PM
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@eunice12  - the typical word solar power means getting direct light from the sun to generate electricity. I think this needs to be light powered. 

eunice12
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Re: Photon source matters
eunice12   9/30/2013 3:14:01 PM
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shehan -  I don't know where you are going with this light pwoered/solar powered post but what I know and what matters is this device is intended to generate impulses from the light that is available, not by looking at the sun. Please let's end the device naming as it is 3 years away from clinical trials. 

Elizabeth M
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Re: Photon source matters
Elizabeth M   10/1/2013 4:38:30 AM
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Thanks for this comment, shehan. I tend to agree with you on quibbling over the "solar/light" debate, especially as right now all we have is a patent and a method for creating this device. Until it makes it to trials, there is no use arguing over it!

jmiller
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Re: Photon source matters
jmiller   9/30/2013 10:40:16 PM
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Does the amount of light that one naturally sees while just looking around satisfy the power requirement?

eunice12
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Re: Photon source matters
eunice12   9/30/2013 10:58:15 PM
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jmiller   Flood was NASA's top solar scientist so he didn't patented this without considering if it would get enough light. He is light years ahead of the layman in understanding the applications for solar.

 

shehan
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Re: Photon source matters
shehan   9/30/2013 12:07:39 PM
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@Orin – I think this need to change from solar power to light power. I am sure the user will lose the other eye too if he stares at the sun for long. 

bobjengr
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ARTIFICIAL RETINA
bobjengr   9/29/2013 4:28:58 PM
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 Excellent post Elizabeth and very informative.  I think this is fantastic technology and obviously tremendously beneficial to those with retina difficulties.  My wife had a detached retina some years ago causing real problems.  Fortunately laser surgery made the necessary repairs possible.  Is the artificial retina used to replace the existing retina?  Also, do you know if anti-rejection drugs work for this device in the same manner?    This is a great example of how nanotechnology is improving our lives.

Elizabeth M
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Re: ARTIFICIAL RETINA
Elizabeth M   9/30/2013 4:39:48 AM
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Thanks, bobjengr. Good to know your wife was able to receive the treatment she needed. It is my understanding that these are meant to replace the retina that isn't functioning properly. I'm a bit confused about your question about anti-rejection drugs? Thanks for reading and your comments.

bobjengr
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Re: ARTIFICIAL RETINA
bobjengr   9/30/2013 7:17:48 AM
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Hello Elizabeth. When my wife had her surgery she was prescribed an anti-rejection drug sneak antibiotic. I wonder if the same medications would work and be effective for the lenses you describe. Many thanks. Bob

Elizabeth M
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Re: ARTIFICIAL RETINA
Elizabeth M   10/1/2013 4:40:21 AM
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Hi again, Bob. Thanks for clearing up the question. I still don't have an answer for you and I suspect this really isn't something scientists/doctors would know until the device was tested, which is at least a couple of years off. It is a valid concern and question, though! Hopefully the answer would be yes, if such drugs were required to ensure the patient could use the device effectively for a long time.

Elizabeth M
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Re: ARTIFICIAL RETINA
Elizabeth M   10/1/2013 4:36:35 AM
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Hi, Bob, here is an answer from CTO Dennis Flood, who invented the retina, about whether it replaces the retina itself:

The device will be what is called a subretinal prosthesis.  It will sit in the macula in the region normally occupied by the rods and cones.

Hope that clears things up!

 

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