Date of Completion

Spring 5-6-2012

Thesis Advisor(s)

Robert R. Birge

Honors Major

Biomedical Engineering


Biomaterials | Molecular, Cellular, and Tissue Engineering | Optometry


Halorhodopsin (HR), a light-activated chloride ion pump, demonstrates potential for use as the scaffolding in an artificial retina. Retinal implants are needed to restore vision to people afflicted with ophthalmic diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP). A protein-based chloride ion-patch would be utilized by the eye to create an influx of chloride ions, similar to ion concentrations in healthy retinas during the conversion of light stimuli to electrochemical signals. This protein-based retinal prosthesis will directly stimulate the bipolar cells of the retina, replacing the function of damaged photoreceptor cells. Other alternative treatments for AMD and RP involve invasive surgeries to implant microelectronic devices that are frequently supplemented with external components. Comparatively, the artificial retina under investigation, comprised of a medically inert substrate layered with HR, provides a more practical, less surgically invasive approach to provide higher resolution vision to patients.