Retinal Prosthesis: An Innovative Technology for Treating Blindness

Jinghua Chen, MD, PhD


Diseases of the retina, such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), are major causes of blindness in the industrialized world.  There are 25 million people across the globe, including 6 million in the United Statesalone, or who are severely visually impaired, due to  RP and AMD. By 2020, this figure is expected to double, creating a virtual vision-loss epidemic. 1Photoreceptors degenerate in both diseases, however, ganglion cells and other neurons remain functional in these patients. Currently, very few treatments are available for both diseases. Many studies to treat these diseases are performed, which include gene therapy, transplantation of stem cells, neurotrophic factors, and retinal prosthesis.

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