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J Physiol Paris. 2013 Nov;107(5):421-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jphysparis.2012.10.003. Epub 2012 Nov 10.

Neural stimulation for visual rehabilitation: advances and challenges.

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INSERM, U968, Institut de la Vision, 17 rue Moreau, Paris F-75012, France; UPMC Univ Paris 06, UMR S968, Institut de la Vision, 17 rue Moreau, Paris F-75012, France; CNRS, UMR 7210, Institut de la Vision, 17 rue Moreau, Paris F-75012, France. Electronic address:


Blindness affects tens of million people worldwide and its prevalence constantly increases along with population aging. In some pathologies leading to vision loss, prosthetic approaches are currently the only hope for the patient to recover some visual perception. Here, we review the latest advances in visual prosthetic strategies with their respective strength and weakness. The principle is to electrically stimulate neurons along the visual pathway. Ocular approaches target the remaining retinal cells whereas brain stimulation aims at stimulating higher visual structures directly. Even though ocular approaches are less invasive and easier to implement, brain stimulation can be applied to diseases where the connection between the retina and the brain is lost such as in glaucoma and could therefore benefit to patients with different pathologies. Today, numbers of groups are investigating these strategies and the first devices start being commercialized. However, critical bottlenecks still impair our scientific efforts towards efficient visual implants. These challenges include electrode miniaturization, material optimization, multiplexing of stimulation channels and encoding of visual information into electrical stimuli.


Blindness; Implants; Prosthetics; Visual information coding; Visual perception

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