Joint Colloquium Distinguished Lecture Series

Development of the MIT-Harvard Retinal Implant: 1989-2012

John Wyatt

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
306 Soda Hall (HP Auditorium)
4:00 - 5:00 pm

John Wyatt
Professor of EECS, MIT

Downloadable pdf


We began in 1989 to develop the idea of a retinal implant to restore some useful level of vision to patients who are blind with outer retinal diseases, specifically retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. The retinal implant can be very coarsely understood as analogous to the cochlear implant for the deaf.  Our surgical experience on animals and 6 human patients caused us to dramatically change direction about ten years ago to develop a subretinal implant, i.e., an implant located immediately behind the retina rather than one attached to the retina from the front.

This talk will show the development of our implant design, and the interaction of circuit design, packaging and surgical trials with animals.  All the development so far has been done in an academic setting. We will describe the final design we plan to submit to the FDA in 12-15 months for chronic human implantation, and will discuss the advantages we believe this design offers over others under development by a variety of companies in the US and Europe.


Professor John L. Wyatt, Jr. is a principal investigator in the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He received the S.B. from MIT in 1968, the M.S. in electrical engineering from Princeton University in 1970, and the Ph.D in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1979. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Medical College of Virginia before joining the MIT faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1979.

Professor Wyatt is co-director of the Boston Retinal Implant Project. He also headed an MIT project on analog integrated circuits for machine vision from 1988 to 1995. His other research interests include circuit theory, delay estimation in digital integrated circuits, nonlinear circuits and systems, random processes and electrical noise.

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