Engent Inc., Norcross, Ga. [engentaat. com], and the Veteran's Administration's Center for Innovative Visual Rehabilita-tion, Boston, Mass., are working on retinal implant projects to restore useful vision to patients blinded by degenerative retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.3
Dr. Daniel F. Baldwin, Engent president, reports, "These devices electrically stimulate the remaining healthy ganglion cells in the retina in response to wirelessly transmitted video data from outside the body, effectively bypassing the dying photoreceptor cells.
"While these devices cannot be expected to provide the high acuity vision to which we are accustomed, they should restore the independence of some blind patients in performing many of the activities of daily living."
Microelectronics- and MEMS-based biomedical devices fill many vital roles in modern health care. They can improve the quality of life and prevent premature deaths or patient deterioration. The components must have longevity and, most importantly, there is little acceptable margin of error in the final assembly and packaging steps.
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