[Vision restoration with implants in retinal degenerations].

Semmelweis Egyetem, Általános Orvostudományi Kar, Szemészeti Klinika Budapest.
Orvosi Hetilap 04/2011; 152(14):537-45. DOI: 10.1556/OH.2011.29064
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Up until now there has been no available treatment for diseases causing the permanent impairment of retinal photoreceptors. Currently the development of the retinal prostheses is the earliest to promise a result that can be implemented in the clinical treatment of these patients. Implants with different operating principles and in various stages of progress are presented in details, highlighting the characteristics, as well as the Hungarian aspects of the development. This survey intends to provide an overview on retinal prostheses, implantable in case of degenerative diseases of the retina, by reviewing and assessing the papers published in relevant journals and based on personal experience. Developments in microelectronics in recent years made it possible and proved to be feasible to replace the degenerated elements in the retina with electrical stimulation. Multiple comparable approaches are running simultaneously. Two types of these implants are directly stimulating the remaining living cells in the retina. Hitherto the finest resolution has been achieved with the subretinal implants. Although the epiretinal implant offer lower resolution, but requires shorter surgery for implantation. Retinal implants in certain retinal diseases are proved to be capable of generating vision-like experiences. A number of types of retinal implants can be expected to appear in clinical practice a few years after the successful conclusion of clinical trials.

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    ABSTRACT: 1. To explore the feasibility of a visual prosthesis for the blind, human visual cortex has been stimulated during a series of surgical procedures on conscious volunteers undergoing other occipital lobe surgery.2. Area no. 17 seems the most effective locus for such stimulation, at least in sighted or recently hemianopic patients.3. Changes in electrode size and configuration, or in stimulus parameters, have little effect on subjective sensation.4. Thresholds do vary depending on parameters, but not electrode size, and these effects have been studied.5. Painful effects are associated with stimulation of the dura, but not of the calcarine artery and associated vessels.6. Stimulation of a single electrode usually produces one phosphene, whose size ranges from tiny punctate sensations like ;a star in the sky' up to a large coin at arm's length. Very large elongated phosphenes, like those seen by Brindley's second patient, have not been reported despite the number of patients, electrodes, and combinations of stimulus parameters tested. These large phosphenes may be an effect of prolonged blindness.7. Stimulation substantially above threshold may produce a second conjugate phosphene, inverted about the horizontal meridian.8. Stimulation of a single electrode may also produce multiple phosphenes with no differential threshold.9. Chromatic effects and/or phosphene flicker may, or may not occur. This can vary from point to point on the same patient.10. Phosphenes fade after 10-15 sec of continuous stimulation.11. All phosphenes move proportionately with voluntary eye movements, within the accuracy of our mapping techniques.12. Brightness modulation can easily be achieved by changing pulse amplitude.13. The position of phosphenes in the visual field corresponds only roughly with expectations based on classical maps showing the projection of the visual field onto the cortex.14. Patients can usually discriminate phosphenes produced by 1 mm(2) electrodes on 3 mm centres, although this seems to be close to the limit of resolution.15. Patterns of up to four phosphenes produced by four electrodes have been recognized. However, a variety of complex interactions have been reported.16. Multiple phosphenes are co-planar, although patients are unable to estimate their distance.17. Phosphenes appear immediately when stimulation is begun, and disappear immediately upon cessation of stimulation.18. Future work must concentrate on blind volunteers to explore possible differences in subjective sensation produced after prolonged blindness, and to explore more complex pattern presentation which requires substantial periods of time with any given patient.
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