Scientists and engineers of CSEM and Nano-Retina are collaborating to develop an implantable bionic chip designed to restore sight to those blinded by retinal degenerative diseases.

The chip, which is intended to replace the damaged retinal photoreceptors, works by collecting the visual information and relaying it to the brain.

The bionic chip features a small imager, an electronic interface, including a network of electrodes which simulate the optic nerve so that it relays the visual data collected by the chip to the brain.

The procedure for chip implantation involves simple local anaesthesia, 5mm incision in the sclera, followed by gluing the implant over the damaged retina.

The implant will be powered by an external source present in a pair of spectacles that the patient would have to wear.

The first clinical trials on humans are scheduled to begin in 2013.