An approach for vision restoration in mice via holographically patterned, optogenetic stimulation of the retina is revealed in Nature Communications this week. The approach signifies an advance on previous strategies that lack precision and high resolution.
Electrical retinal prostheses are currently used to aid blind human subjects, but their ultimate performance is limited by the spread of current away from targeted retinal cells, which results in low visual acuity. A pattern photo-stimulation system for artificially controlling neural activity in visual prosthesis is not expected to have this limitation, but this approach has not yet been tested.
Shy Shoham and colleagues apply holographically patterned stimuli to intact mouse retinas that are artificially blinded, but are selectively sensitive to the stimuli thanks to being transfected with the light-sensitive protein channel, rhodopsin. They find that the retinal cells respond with millisecond temporal precision and cellular resolution.
Although these studies were carried out in retinas that were removed from mice, the authors hope that this approach can one day be translated to clinical studies for degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa or age-related macular degeneration.