United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Rehabilitation Research & Development Service


The primary goal of the Center for Innovative Visual Rehabilitation is to establish a multi-disciplinary approach towards developing new bioengineering therapies, improve delivery of ophthalmic care and enhance the quality of life of visually impaired patients. The conceptual foundation of the collaborative effort is the union of patient care, basic and applied research, rehabilitation and education.

retinal implant drawing

At the core of this effort, is the Boston Retinal Implant Project concentrating on the development of a retinal prosthesis designed to restore functional vision to patients with certain forms of blindness. We are confident that the prosthesis will one day help some blind patients. However, there are numerous technical challenges to be faced at this time. For example, it is important to determine how to stimulate the delicate retina safely and to develop appropriate materials to in order to protect the equally delicate electronics of the prosthesis so that it remains functional in the eye for a long period of time. Finally, as research and development continues to solve these technical issues, there remains the fundamental question as to how to stimulate the retina using patterns of electrical stimulation in order to generate useful and functional vision. The Center has now focused considerable effort in trying to resolve this issue. A better understanding of how the brain interprets information coming from the stimulated retina will likely translate into a better quality of vision. Despite these difficult questions, considerable progress has been made and there is good reason to believe that adequate solutions will be found in the near future.

For more information on the Boston Retinal Implant Project, click here.