U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Biological and Environmental Research Advanced Medical Instrumentation Program Funds a Collaborative Project to Help the Blind See.
Published: July 03, 2001
Posted: July 16, 2001

BER recently announced that it will provide $7.7 million over a three-year period for a collaborative project between Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Johns Hopkins Wilmar Eye Institute, Sandia National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, North Carolina State University, and Second Sight, LLC, to develop a retinal prosthetic device (an artificial retina) that will allow patients who have retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration to see again. Retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration are the leading causes of retinal blindness worldwide. These diseases slowly destroy the photoreceptor cells in the retina of the eye that convert a light image into a neural signal for processing in the brain. Currently, no treatment is available for either disease. This collaborative project capitalizes on the unique engineering resources and expertise at the DOE National Laboratories and the medical expertise at the University Medical Centers to develop an advanced high-density microelectronic array that can be safely implanted into the eye and serve as an artificial retina. Preliminary results indicate that this device will allow a patient with retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration to have vision restored to a level equivalent to reading larger print. This project is supported by the Medical Sciences Division's Advance Medical Instrumentation Program.

Contact: Dean Cole, SC-73, 3-3268
Topic Areas:

  • Legacy: Medical Applications

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER
      (formerly SC-73 Medical Sciences Division, OBER)


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