STANFORD (CBS SF) – Patients with macular degeneration and other retinal diseases could soon be helped by a new implant developed by Stanford University researchers. The implant is smaller and offers vision five times better than existing devices.

Researchers tested the implants in rats and found it provided functional vision equivalent to 20/250, far better than current implants that provide 20/1,200 vision.

“Based on our current results, we hope that human recipients of this implant will be able to recognize objects and move about,” Stanford electrical engineering Georges Goetz, lead author of the paper, said in a university statement.

According to the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, the wireless implant is subretinal which means it sits on the outer surface on the retina. It is smaller than other retinal implants and would only require minimally invasive surgery to be inserted in a person’s eyes.

Clinical trials in humans are expected to take place next year in France.

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