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Configurable, Modular Wireless Retinal Prosthesis and Hermetic Packaging Development at the VA Center for Innovative Visual Rehabilitation
Keywords: Visual prosthesis, Retina, Degeneration
The primary aim of the VA Center for Innovative Visual Rehabilitation (CIVR) is to develop a visual prosthesis to restore useful vision to patients who are blind from degenerative retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or retinitis pigmentosa (RP). AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world, affecting over 14 million people. RP, meanwhile, is the leading cause of inherited blindness, and it occurs once in approximately 4000 live births. Both these diseases have no known cure at this time, and present treatments can only slow the progression of the condition. The CIVR was formed in 2001, and its goals encompass clinical rehabilitation of VA patients, basic science and electrophysiology studies aimed at understanding the neural code for vision, and the engineering of a configurable, modular wireless implantable neurostimulator for the retina. The presentation will focus on the development of the latter, its mechanical and electrical design, and its features including: ultra low power ASIC design, low-volume, low-profile hermetic package with 19-pin feedthrough, and configurable layout based on the rehabilitative needs of the patient. This modular design will give a great deal of flexibility to the clinician in customizing and/or reprogramming the prosthesis based on new understandings arising from our group's basic electrophysiology research. The engineering developments covered in the presentation will include the internal and external flexible circuit and feedthrough designs, the 15-site IrOx stimulating electrode array fabrication technology, the low power telemetry circuitry, and our most recent testing results on this system. The evolution from our first flexible prototype design will also be described.
Dr. Douglas B. Shire, Engineering Manager
VA Center for Innovative Visual Rehabilitation
Ithaca, NY
USA


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