London, Scientists have developed a retinal implant or bionic eye, which is powered by light and may help visually impaired to see.
Implants presently used in patients are required to be powered by a battery.
The new device invented by scientists at Stanford University in California uses a special pair of glasses to beam near infrared light into the eye.
This powers the implant and sends the information, which could help a patient see, the BBC reported.
Diseases like age-related macular degeneration and retinal pigmentosa result in the death of cells that can detect light in the eye.
Sooner or later, this leads to blindness.
Retinal implants stimulate the nerves in the back of the eye, which has helped a few patients to see.
Early results of a trial in the UK show that two men have gone from being totally blind to being able to perceive light and even some shapes.
However, apart from a fitting a chip behind the retina, a battery needs to be fitted behind the ear and a cable needs to join the two together.
Prof Robert MacLaren from Oxford Eye Hospital shed light on how a bionic eye implant works.
The Stanford researchers insisted that their method could be a step forward by “eliminating the need for complex electronics and wiring”.
A retinal implant, which works in a similar manner as a solar panel, is fitted at the back of the eye.
A pair of glasses fitted with a video camera records what is happening before a patient’s eyes and fires beams of near infrared light on to the retinal chip.
This creates an electrical signal, which is passed on to nerves.
Natural light is 1,000 times weaker to power the implant.
“Because the photovoltaic implant is thin and wireless, the surgical procedure is much simpler than in other retinal prosthetic approaches,” the researchers said.
“Such a fully integrated wireless implant promises the restoration of useful vision to patients blinded by degenerative retinal diseases.”
The implant has not been tested in people yet, but has been shown to work in rats.
The new devise has been described in the journal Nature Photonics.