Abstract: In retinal degenerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the photoreceptors become stressed and start to degenerate in the early stages of the disease. Retinal prosthetic devices have been developed to restore vision in patients by applying electrical stimulation to the surviving retinal cells. However, these devices provide limited visual perception as the therapeutic interventions are generally considered in the later stages of the disease when only inner retinal layer cells are left. A potential treatment option for retinal degenerative diseases in the early stages can be stimulating bipolar cells, which receive presynaptic signals from photoreceptors. In this work, we constructed computational models of healthy and degenerated (both ON and OFF-type) cone bipolar cells (CBCs) with realistic morphologies extracted from connectomes of the healthy and early-stage degenerated rabbit retina. We examined these cells’ membrane potential and axon terminal calcium current differences when subjected to electrical stimulation. In addition, we investigated how differently healthy and degenerated cells behave with respect to various stimulation parameters, including pulse duration and cells’ distance from the stimulating electrode. The results suggested that regardless of the position of the OFF CBCs in the retina model, there is not a significant difference between the membrane potential of healthy and degenerate cells when electrically stimulated. However, the healthy ON CBC axon terminal membrane potential rising time-constant is shorter (0.29 ± 0.03 ms) than the degenerated cells (0.8 ± 0.07 ms). Moreover, the ionic calcium channels at the axon terminals of the cells have a higher concentration and higher current in degenerated cells (32.24 ± 6.12 pA) than the healthy cells (13.64 ± 2.88 pA) independently of the cell’s position.
Abstract: Retinal degenerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa, are generally thought to initiate with the loss of photoreceptors, though recent work suggests that plasticity and remodeling occurs prior to photoreceptor cell loss. This degeneration subsequently leads to death of other retinal neurons, creating functional alterations and extensive remodeling of retinal networks. Retinal prosthetic devices stimulate the surviving retinal cells by applying external current using implanted electrodes. Although these devices restore partial vision, the quality of restored vision is limited. Further knowledge about the precise changes in degenerated retina as the disease progresses is essential to understand how current flows in retinas undergoing degenerative disease and to improve the performance of retinal prostheses. We developed computational models that describe current flow from rod photoreceptors to rod bipolar cells
Abstract—A computational model of electrical stimulation of the retina is proposed for investigating current waveforms used in prosthetic devices for restoring partial vision lost to retina degen- erative diseases. The model framework combines a connectome- based neural network model characterized by accurate mor- phological and synaptic properties with an Admittance Method model of bulk tissue and prosthetic electronics. In this model, the retina was computationally “degenerated,” considering cellular death and anatomical changes that occur early in disease, as well as altered neural behavior that develops throughout the neurodegeneration and is likely interfering with current attempts at restoring vision. A resulting analysis of stimulation range and threshold of ON ganglion cells within retina that are either healthy or in beginning stages of degeneration is presented for currently-used stimulation waveforms, and an asymmetric biphasic current stimulation for subduing spontaneous firing to allow increased control over ganglion cell firing patterns in degenerated retina is proposed. Results show that stimulation thresholds of retinal ganglion cells do not notably vary after beginning stages of retina degeneration. In addition, simulation of proposed asymmetric waveforms showed the ability to enhance the control of ganglion cell firing via electrical stimulation.
Abstract: An implantable retinal prosthesis has been developed to restore vision to patients who have been blinded by degenerative diseases that destroy photoreceptors. By electrically stimulating the surviving retinal cells, the damaged photoreceptors may be bypassed and limited vision can be restored. While this has been shown to restore partial vision, the understanding of how cells react to this systematic electrical stimulation is largely unknown. Better predictive models and a deeper understanding of neural responses to electrical stimulation is necessary for designing a successful prosthesis. In this work, a computational model of an epi-retinal implant was built and simulated, spanning multiple spatial scales, including a large-scale model of the retina and implant electronics, as well as underlying neuronal networks.