The National Aeronautic and Space Administration, NASA, has awarded a $5 million grant to LambdaVision to aid in that biotech company’s development of its protein-based artificial retina. The LambdaVision project is the first of its kind. If successful, the innovative artificial retina will restore meaningful vision to individuals who are blind or have significant visual impairment as the result of a condition known as advanced retinitis pigmentosa.
What is the retina?
Before diving a bit deeper into this important research, understanding the work of the retina is important. The retina is the inner-most layer of the eye, located at the rear of the eyeball. The retina contains specialized cells that are sensitive to light. These cells are responsible for sending nerve impulses through the optic nerve to the brain.
When the signal sent out by the retina reaches the brain, a visual image is formed. The bottom line is that the retina is a primary reason why we are able to see.
What is Retinitis Pigmentosa?
Retinitis pigmentosa is a type of genetic disorder. Retinitis pigmentosa gradually causes a loss of vision. Over time, a person with retinitis pigmentosa experiences difficulty seeing at night. Another primary symptom is a decrease in peripheral vision. As an individual’s peripheral vision decreases, tunnel vision is experienced.
Complete blindness can occur in more severe cases. The onset of retinitis pigmentosa can occur at any age although onset in childhood is relatively common.
Role of the International Space Station
The International Space Station, or ISS, will be involved in the development of the artificial retina as well. Researchers will explore and analyze possible benefits associated with microgravity for producing the artificial retina. Multiple missions to the ISS over the course of the coming three years will include research on the artificial retina.
These are exciting times when it comes to eye care. Advances into improving eye care, eye health, and vision are being made today that couldn’t have been imagined even five years ago.
Other Applications of the Research
Researchers involved in the development of this artificial retina advise that there may be other applications for this biological technology. Specifically, there is now evidence to indicate that this technology may be helpful in treating age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in people over the age of 55.
At Matossian Eye Associates, our team of experienced, innovative eye doctors offer an array of the latest advanced technologies for conditions like for treatments and procedures like cataract surgery, glaucoma care, retina care, dry eye, other issues.
You can schedule an examination or consultation with one of the eye doctors from Matossian Eye Associates by calling (800) 708-8800 or booking online at www.matossianeye.com/contact-us.