Retinal degenerative diseases lead to blindness due to loss of the “image capturing” photoreceptors, while neurons in the “image-processing” inner retinal layers are relatively well preserved. Information can be reintroduced into the visual system using electrical or optical stimulation of the surviving inner retinal neurons. Some electronic retinal prosthetic systems have already been tested in human patients and approved for clinical use, while more advanced technologies are being developed. Alternatively, light sensitivity can be artificially introduced into retinal neurons using opto-genetic or opto-pharmacological methods. I will review the current state of the art with each of these approaches, their challenges, technological solutions and perspectives for restoration of sight to the blind.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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