The research program within the RTG aims at finding innovative measures to considerably improve concepts for stimulation of the degenerated retina. We will address four main scientific challenges:
- Innovative Materials and Concepts
- Retina Stimulation in HD/3D
- Visual Cortex
Progressive bilateral degeneration of the retina leads to untreatable blindness, e.g. in advanced atrophic age-related macular degeneration or in RP. Even with recently approved gene therapy, a significant functional and clinically relevant improvement is very limited. In RP, Retina Implant Systems (RIS) have been approved for clinical use such as the Argus II™-device. Approximately 2/3 of the implantees reported a benefit and an improvement in daily living tasks performance. Unfortunately, the functional results of these implants are very limited concerning resolution, field of vision, and control flexibility. In many patients, phosphenes can be elicited. However, these phosphenes are very different from a natural or near natural perception. In addition to technical limitations, none of these systems considers changes of neural connections in the retina as well as in the visual cortex due to the degeneration process.
We identified significant challenges in the state-of-the-art technology and suggest innovative approaches to considerably improve the outcome of retinal stimulation. Within RTG 2610, new concepts of retinal stimulation will be developed in a highly interdisciplinary approach.