The global incidence of blindness due to retinal degenerative diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration, is increasing at a significant rate due to a rise in average lifespan and an expansion of the global geriatric population. Blindness from these diseases can cause a significant decline in the quality of life for affected individuals. Both diseases are characterized by the loss of the photoreceptor cells (rod and cone cells). These cells are specialized neurons found in the retina that absorb light and transmit the impulse through the ganglion and bipolar cells, which is interpreted by the brain as vision. The photoreceptor cells in individuals with these diseases become damaged and can no longer respond to light effectively. It is important to note that throughout the degradation of these photoreceptor cells, the bipolar and ganglion cells of the retina remain largely intact, making it possible for LambdaVision’s artificial retina to activate these neural cells and facilitate visual perception.
RETINITIS PIGMENTOSA (RP)
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is the most common form of heritable retinal degeneration and leads to progressive loss of vision due to the breakdown and loss of photoreceptor cells in the retina, which is the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. RP results from a diverse group of genetic mutations in genes that regulate key biological mechanisms related to visual perception. Individuals suffering from this disease first experience night blindness, followed by tunnel vision and, ultimately, blindness due to the gradual loss of central vision. Classified as a rare disease, RP affects approximately 100,000 individuals in the United States and roughly 1.5 million people worldwide. There is currently no cure for RP.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a degenerative retinal disease that occurs when a part of the retina, the macula, is damaged, thus causing the deterioration of the central portion of the retina and leading to a loss of vision. In this case, degeneration typically follows retinal detachment, which is either caused by cell debris accumulation (dry AMD) or the formation of blood vessels (wet AMD) in the back of the eye. AMD has been cited as being the leading cause of irreversible vision loss and legal blindness in individuals over the age of 55 and affects over 30 million people worldwide.