People suffering seriously impaired vision due to damaged retinas will soon be able to see clearly. Thanks to a new method developed by a scientist at the University of Colorado Hospital-Quantum dots- nanoscale specks of semiconductor.
Researchers have long been interested in "bionic eyes" to amplify vision in people who have suffered vision loss due to damaged retinas caused by aging or diabetes.
One solution developed to restore clear vision was installing silicon chip into the eye to electrically stimulate the retina's nerves in response to light.
While the method did show some impressive results, implanted chips also had drawbacks-their relatively large size means they block light that would have fallen on healthy parts of the retina and they can also cause tissue damage, such as tearing.
Thus, Jeffrey Olsen has now come up with another method entirely - amplifying the light that reaches the retina using the eye's still functioning light-sensitive cells.
He said that light amplification could be achieved by implanting quantum dots into the retina.
The specks of semiconductor fluoresce when hit by photons and would have the effect of making any received retinal image brighter.
Quantum dots have many advantages- they require no external power source, are much smaller than silicon chips, and can be coated with a bioactive material that causes them to become lodged in only specific tissues in the retina.
The patent application said that the testing quantum dots on rats have shown that this approach works.
Rats that had quantum dots injected into their retinas afterwards had more electrical activity in their retinas than those that received control injections of saline, or no treatment at all.