Researchers stimulate blind retina using centralized ultrasound technology TOU

Researchers stimulate blind retina using centralized ultrasound technology


Researchers stimulate blind retina using centralized ultrasound technology

Credit: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

According to a 2016 study by USC Gail and the Edward Rosky Eye Institute, the number of Americans with visual impairment or blindness is expected to rise to more than 8 million by 2050.

As young child boomers reach the age of 65 by 2029, age-related eye diseases and conditions are expected to increase when the so-called “Silver Tsunami” occurs.

According to medical experts it is safe to say that most of those cases are caused by retinal degeneration, a progressive degeneration of light-sensitive photosynthesis in your retina.

Based on these estimates, there is an undue need for new technologies to treat vision loss caused by photosynthetic degeneration.

Although there are currently no successful non-invasive treatment modalities for the treatment of vision loss, USC researchers have come up with a new idea to address this growing problem.

Currently, ophthalmologists use electronic technology to stimulate retinal neurons by inserting electrodes directly into the eye, a technique that requires expensive and invasive surgery.

A research team from the USC Witterby School of Engineering’s Department of Biomedical Engineering is exploring a non-surgical solution that can restore vision using another of the five senses.


Ultrasound technology

Kifa Chow, a professor of biomedical engineering and ophthalmology at USC, said: “This is an innovative technology.

The research team was led by Mark S. Humayun, Professor of Ophthalmology and Biomedical Engineering at Zhou and USC, and one of the inventors of the world’s first artificial retina, Argus II.

“This technology is advantageous because it does not require surgery and no device is fitted inside the body,” says Ph.D. Zhengxi Lu said. Student at Zhou’s Lab. “Wearable ultrasound device generates retinal-stimulated ultrasound waves”.

Researchers have found that when you close your eyes and gently press your eyelids, you can activate neurons and send signals to the brain by putting pressure on the eye to see how shapes and bright spots appear.

Unlike a normal eye activated by light, blind eyes were stimulated by mechanical stresses generated by ultrasound waves in this study.

“Neurons in the retina of the eye have mechanical sensory channels that respond to mechanical stimuli,” Lu explained. “These neurons are activated when ultrasound is used to create mechanical stress.”

How it works

To test this ultrasound approach, the USC team in pre-clinical trials used high-frequency ultrasound waves that could not be heard by humans to stimulate the eyes of blind mice.

The technology used in this research is comparable to the ultrasound study used for imaging the baby, which transmits and receives sound waves in the abdomen of a pregnant woman.

In this case, the research team developed a small ultrasound device for retinal stimulation, which can direct a specific area of ​​the eye to send sound waves to the retina located at the back of the eye.

Using these high-frequency sounds, you can focus on a specific area of ​​the eye; The study showed that the rat’s brain was able to take a similar shape when the ultrasound waves were projected into a shape – for example, the letter ‘C’.

Unlike humans, the researchers were unable to obtain direct answers about the rat’s visual experiences during ultrasound stimulation.

To answer these questions about what the rat was able to see exactly from the ultrasound waves, the team measured visual function directly from the visual brain area of ​​the mouse called the visual cortex by connecting multiple electrodes.

Based on the visual activity recorded from the brain, the researchers found that the rat was able to perceive visualizations comparable to a planned ultrasound stimulus method. This work was recently published BME Fronters.

The future

The research is currently funded by a four-year $ 2.3 million grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI). The group recently applied for another NEI translation grant to take their study to the next level.

Current studies are mostly conducted using rodent samples. However, the team plans to test this approach using non-human primary models before conducting human clinical trials.

“Right now, we use a transmitter placed in front of a mouse’s eye to transmit ultrasound signals to the retina, but our ultimate goal is to develop a wireless lens transceiver,” said Dr. Joe.

While the team is currently analyzing the capabilities of ultrasound technology for visual inspection, their future goal is to create sharp images and install ultrasound transmitters on the next-generation wearable contact lens.

The novel is pending patent for ultrasound technology, which we hope will change the way vision therapy is treated over the years.

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                                        <a class="text-medium text-info mt-2 d-inline-block" href="">Sound stimulates the retina to transmit signals to the brain through ultrasonic retinal prosthesis</a>
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                                                                                            <strong>More info:</strong>
                                            Xuejun Qian et al, Non-invasive ultrasound retinal stimulation for vision restoration at high spatiotemporal resolution, <i>BME Boundaries</i> (2022)  <a data-doi="1" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">DOI: 10.34133 / 2022/9829316</a>


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