Purpose: To determine the best candidates (ie, those requiring lowest current levels delivered to the retina to elicit visual perceptions) for long-term implantation of a microelectronic retinal implant through a series of preoperative visual, psychophysical, and electrophysiological tests.
Methods: This study protocol was granted an investigational device exemption by the Food and Drug Administration and was approved by the institutional review board at the University of Southern California. After informed consent was obtained, all subjects underwent the following preoperative tests: dark-adapted bright flash and 30-Hz flicker electroretinograms, electrical evoked responses (EERs) using a Burian-Allen corneal electrode to stimulate the globe, and psychophysical tests to evaluate the light and electrically elicited visual perceptions. Intraocular stimulation (IOS) of the retina was performed by an array of electrodes positioned on the internal limiting lamina.
Results: Lower vision correlated with less sensitive psychophysical responses (P<.0001). Lower vision and less sensitive psychophysical tests correlated with higher EER values for stimulus pulse widths of 2 ms (P<.0008) and 4 ms (P<.0002). Lower IOS currents correlated with more sensitive psychophysical responses (P<.02) and lower EER values at 4 ms (P<.04).
Conclusions: Preoperative testing, especially psychophysical and electrophysiological tests to assess light and electrically driven visual responses, can help in evaluating patients for suitability for receiving a permanent microelectronic retinal implant. Further study is warranted.