This U.S. Department of Energy funded project resulted in the creation of the first-ever retinal prosthesis—or bionic eye—to be approved in the United States by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for blind individuals with end-stage retinitis pigmentosa. The multi-institutional team that developed the artificial retina received a Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award in 2010. In 2009, the team also received an R&D 100 Award from R&D Magazine.
The LLNL team contributed three major components to the artificial retina program: the thin-film electrode array that contains the neural electrodes; the biocompatible electronics package that contains the electronics for stimulating the retina and wireless power and communications; and an ocular surgical tool that will enable the replacement of the thin-film electrode array. In addition, LLNL was responsible for the system integration and assembly of the next-generation artificial retina system with 240 stimulating electrodes.