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Nano Retina develops bionic retina for visually impaired

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Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

As reported in Israel 21c:

A two-year-old Israeli company is pairing electrodes with living neurons in the eye to create bionic sight for the vision impaired, in a nanotech development that sounds more like science fiction, than real life.

Nano Retina, operating since 2009 in Herzliya, is now manufacturing an R&D prototype of the development. While it is not the first in the field to develop such a technology, its advance offers a tenfold improvement in vision compared to the two technology solution providers on the market today, according to the company’s managing director, Ra’anan Gefen.

Inserted into the retina in a 30-minute procedure, Nano Retina’s implant device, about the size of a grain of rice, turns into an artificial retina that melds to the neurons in the eye. It is activated by the wearer using special eyeglasses, transforming natural light into an electrical impulse that stimulates the neurons to send images to the brain.

With investment money from its founding partners, and a grant from BIRD, the US-Israel Bilateral Research and Development Fund, Nano Retina plans to start clinical trials in 2013. If successful, these trials could lead to restoring the vision of millions of people with degenerative retinal disease, including those suffering from age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

According to the National Federation of the Blind, some 50,000 people in the United States go blind every year, and there are currently some 3.6 million Americans aged 40 and up who are legally blind.

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