Visual prostheses for the blind

Trends Biotechnol. 2013 Oct;31(10):562-71. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2013.07.001. Epub 2013 Aug 14.


After more than 40 years of research, visual prostheses are moving from the laboratory into the clinic. These devices are designed to provide prosthetic vision to the blind by stimulating localized neural populations in one of the retinotopically organized structures of the visual pathway - typically the retina or visual cortex. The long gestation of this research reflects the many significant technical challenges encountered including surgical access, mechanical stability, hardware miniaturization, hermetic encapsulation, high-density electrode arrays, and signal processing. This review provides an introduction to the pathophysiology of blindness; an overview of existing visual prostheses, their advantages and drawbacks; the perceptual effects evoked by electrical stimulation; as well as the role played by plasticity and training in clinical outcomes.

Keywords: bionic vision; blindness; electrical stimulation; electrodes; neural prosthesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Visual Prosthesis*
  • Visually Impaired Persons / rehabilitation*