Electronic retinal implants for the blind are already a market reality. A world wide effort is underway to find the technology that offers the best combination of performance and safety for potential patients. Our approach is to construct an epi-retinally targeted device entirely encapsulated in diamond to maximise longevity and biocompatibility. The stimulating array of our device comprises a monolith of electrically insulating diamond with thousands of hermetic, microscale nitrogen doped ultra-nanocrystalline diamond (N-UNCD) feedthroughs.
As the ear has dual functions for audition and balance, the eye has a dual role in detecting light for a wide range of behavioral and physiological functions separate from sight. These responses are driven primarily by stimulation of photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (pRGCs) that are most sensitive to short-wavelength ( approximately 480 nm) blue light and remain functional in the absence of rods and cones. We examined the spectral sensitivity of non-image-forming responses in two profoundly blind subjects lacking functional rods and cones (one male, 56 yr old; one female, 87 yr old).
In humans, modulation of circadian rhythms by light is thought to be mediated primarily by melanopsin-containing retinal ganglion cells, not rods or cones. Melanopsin cells are intrinsically blue light-sensitive but also receive input from visual photoreceptors. We therefore tested in humans whether cone photoreceptors contribute to the regulation of circadian and neuroendocrine light responses.