NEWS: We are happy to have the Optobionics website back up. The original Optobionics Corporation has stopped operations. However, Dr. Chow has acquired the Optobionics name and the Artificial Silicon Retina (ASR) implants and will be reorganizing a new company under the Optobionics name.
If you are a patient with Retinitis Pigmentosa and would be interested in whether your eye condition may be responsive to ASR chip stimulation, you may contact us using the Contact Us tab or call us at (630) 858-4411 (Please be patient as it may take us a while to respond to you).
Optobionics’ Artificial Silicon Retina™ microchip (ASR™) was invented by Dr. Alan Chow and his brother Vincent Chow. Dr. Chow is an ophthalmic surgeon and assistant professor and his brother Vincent is an electrical engineer. The ASR was designed to stimulate damaged retinal cells from within the retina to allow the cells to recreate visual signals that are processed and sent to the brain. The ASR microchip is a silicon chip 2 mm in diameter, 25 microns in thickness and is less than the thickness of a human hair. It fabricated using technology similar to that used in the fabrication of computer chips and contains approximately 5,000 microscopic solar cells called “microphotodiodes,” each with its own stimulating electrode.
In retinas with retinal degeneration, these microphotodiodes convert light energy contained in images into electrochemical impulses that stimulate the remaining retinal cells. The ASR
microchip is self-contained, powered solely by incident light and does not require the use of external wires, batteries, headsets or ancillary computers.
When surgically implanted under the retina—in a location known as “subretinal space”—the ASR chip is designed to produce visual signals similar to those produced by the photoreceptor layer. From their subretinal location, these artificial “photoelectric” signals from the ASR microchip can induce visual
signals in the remaining functional retinal cells which may are then processed and sent via the optic nerve to the brain.
In initial laboratory testing, animal models implanted with ASR devices responded to light stimuli with retinal electrical signals (ERGs) and sometimes brain-wave signals (VEPs). The induction of these biological signals by the ASR chip indicated that visual stimulation had occurred.
Based on these studies, the FDA approved the conduct of clinical trials in collaboration with several university and VA medical centers that began in June 2000. These centers included the Hines, Cleveland and Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Centers, Rush University Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute and Emory University Medical Center.