The technological advancements in medicine are often overlooked by the general public. Fact remains though that some amazing work is being done in this field. Take the new P3HT polymer for example, which can be used to create an artificial retina. It does not need any external power source like other artificial retinas for which a stimulator box is required. Other than the incident light, an artificial retina created out of P3HT polymer requires no power (other than the incoming light, which makes us wonder how well this works in low-light situations).
The research team behind this demonstrate that this polymer is not toxic to neurons. Neurons are actually photoactivated in a way that does not cause any unwanted stress to them. Their paper also indicated that neurons grown on patterned P3HT polymer can be reliably activated at a power level of 4mW per mm2, provided that this pulse was there for 10 ms. Despite all of the research that has been made in the field of neuron activation, a lot more has to be figured out before this technology can hopefully be implemented in human patients. The researchers have currently tested this on lab rats only.
This is a massive foot in the door that could lead to development of self sufficient artificial retinas in the future. Such technological advancements can greatly improve the quality of life for generations to come.