Purpose of review
This review summarizes the current status of retinal prostheses, recent accomplishments, and major remaining research, engineering, and rehabilitation challenges.
Retinal research, materials and biocompatibility studies, and clinical trials in patients blind from retinitis pigmentosa are representative of an emerging field with considerable promise and sobering challenges. A summary of progress in dozens of laboratories, companies, and clinics around the world is presented through a synopsis of relevant studies, not only to summarize the progress but also to convey the remarkable increase in interest, effort, and outside funding this field has enjoyed.
At present, clinical applications of retinal implant technology are dominated by one or two groups/companies, but the field is wide open for others to take the lead through novel approaches in technology, tissue interfacing, information transfer paradigms, and rehabilitation. Where the field will go in the next few years is almost anybody's guess, but that it will move forward is a certainty.