Retinal implants present an innovative way of restoring sight in degenerative retinal diseases. Previous reviews of research progress were written by groups developing their own devices. This systematic review objectively compares selected models by examining publications describing five representative retinal prostheses: Argus II, Boston Retinal Implant Project, Epi-Ret 3, Intelligent Medical Implants (IMI) and Alpha-IMS (Retina Implant AG). Publications were analysed using three criteria for interim success: clinical availability, vision restoration potential and long-term biocompatibility. Clinical availability: Argus II is the only device with FDA approval. Argus II and Alpha-IMS have both received the European CE Marking. All others are in clinical trials, except the Boston Retinal Implant, which is in animal studies. Vision restoration: resolution theoretically correlates with electrode number. Among devices with external cameras, the Boston Retinal Implant leads with 100 electrodes, followed by Argus II with 60 electrodes and visual acuity of 20/1262. Instead of an external camera, Alpha-IMS uses a photodiode system dependent on natural eye movements and can deliver visual acuity up to 20/546. Long-term compatibility: IMI offers iterative learning; Epi-Ret 3 is a fully intraocular device; Alpha-IMS uses intraocular photosensitive elements. Merging the results of these three criteria, Alpha-IMS is the most likely to achieve long-term success decades later, beyond current clinical availability.
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