Restoring sight with light-activated proteins
This article was originally published in Start Up
Artificial retinal prostheses are poised to make a dramatic impact by restoring at least partial vision to people blinded by degenerative ophthalmic diseases. A number of companies are developing complex implantable microelectronic innovations, many with external hardware components, to stimulate the retina and overcome the photoreceptor cell deterioration that is the hallmark of these diseases. LambdaVision Inc. is taking a unique approach to restoring vision by developing a flexible, protein-based retinal implant designed to provide higher resolution and to be less surgically invasive than competing technologies.
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Worldwide rates of all diseases that cause blindness are expected to double by 2020 due to the aging population, making this an area ripe for medical device innovation. A multibillion-dollar market has been built around the surgical correction of "front of the eye" age-related vision disorders such as presbyopia, but the technological evolution in ophthalmology has now reached the back of the eye. Artificial retinal prostheses are an increasingly popular area of investigation. Start-ups hoping to enter this market face daunting R&D, clinical and regulatory hurdles, and will require significant resources. We profile three such companies in this issue: 2C Tech Corp., LambdaVision and Nano Retina.
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