Measurement of evoked potentials after electrical stimulation of the human optic nerve

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010 Oct;51(10):5351-5. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-4346. Epub 2010 May 12.


Purpose: To examine the visual evoked potentials (VEP) and electroretinograms (ERG) generated during electrical stimulation of the human optic nerve using the optic nerve visual prosthesis.

Methods: Two volunteers blind from retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and with no light perception each received a chronically implanted optic nerve visual prosthesis. Cortical evoked potentials were recorded using 16 scalp electrodes, and antidromic ERGs were obtained using DTL electrodes while the optic nerve was electrically stimulated. The results were compared with flash and eye surface electrical stimulation results in normal-sighted control subjects.

Results: The VEPs obtained in our two volunteers with implants had a waveshape similar to that obtained in normal-sighted volunteers during flash stimulation, but latency was reduced by approximately 25 ms. The VEPs recorded during surface eye stimulation are similar in both normal-sighted and RP volunteers. The VEPs were compared at sub- and supra-threshold stimulation strength and with different electrode configurations. Finally, the antidromic ERG recordings obtained in our implanted volunteers show a unique inner retinal potential generated by retrograde stimulation of the eye from the optic nerve.

Conclusions: Evoked potentials can be used to examine how a visual prosthesis generates visual sensations. This provides an objective means to investigate various aspects of the visual prostheses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blindness / etiology
  • Blindness / rehabilitation
  • Electric Stimulation / instrumentation*
  • Electrodes, Implanted*
  • Electroretinography
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Optic Nerve / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Retina / physiology
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa / complications
  • Visual Cortex / physiology