How can we return a functional form of sight to people who are living with incurable blindness?
Main approaches for the design of a visual prosthesis (Fernandez, 2018) include retinal (A), optic nerve (B), lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN, C), and cortical approaches (D).
Few disabilities affect human life more than the loss of the ability to see. Although some affected individuals can be treated with surgery or medication, there are no effective treatments for many people blinded by severe degeneration or damage to the retina, the optic nerve, or cortex. In such cases, a visual prosthesis (“bionic eye”) may be the only option.
However, the quality of current prosthetic vision is still rudimentary and does not differ much across different device technologies (Beyeler et al., 2017). A major outstanding challenge is translating electrode stimulation into a code that the brain can understand.
The goal of our research is thus to address fundamental questions at the intersection of neuroscience, computer science, and human-computer interaction that will enable the development of a bionic eye capable of restoring high-quality vision to people who are blind.