Michael Beyeler, Geoffrey M. Boynton, Ione Fine, Ariel Rokem MICCAI 2019
A major limitation of current electronic retinal implants is that in addition to stimulating the intended retinal ganglion cells, they also stimulate passing axon fibers, producing perceptual ‘streaks’ that limit the quality of the generated visual experience. Recent evidence suggests a dependence between the shape of the elicited visual percept and the retinal location of the stimulating electrode. However, this knowledge has yet to be incorporated into the surgical placement of retinal implants. Here we systematically explored the space of possible implant configurations to make recommendations for optimal intraocular positioning of the electrode array. Using a psychophysically validated computational model, we demonstrate that better implant placement has the potential to reduce the spatial extent of axonal activation in existing implant users by up to ∼55%. Importantly, the best implant location, as inferred from a population of simulated virtual patients, is both surgically feasible and is relatively stable across individuals. This study is a first step towards the use of computer simulations in patient-specific planning of retinal implant surgery.