ABOUT THE RETINA: We can see because light reflects off objects in our surroundings and enters the eye through the pupil. The light is then focused and inverted by the cornea and the lens, and projected onto the back of the eye. There we find the retina, which is lined with a series of photoreceptors that convert the light into a neural signal. Ganglion cells then transmit those signals to the brain via the optic nerve.
AN ARTIFICIAL RETINA: Designing an artificial retina requires the development of a method to reproduce the actions of a healthy retina. Diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, which is a group of genetic eye conditions, can cause disruptions to the vision system. Replacing the retina's function involves gathering light, interpreting it, and transferring that information to the brain in a way that it can be recognized. So far scientists are not able to reproduce the fidelity of a fully functioning vision system, though they have developed devices able to produce substantial vision for users.
The Materials Research Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.-USA, and The Optical Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.