Sci Rep. 2023 Dec 14;13(1):22271. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-49580-6.
Retinal prostheses stimulate inner retinal neurons to create visual perception for blind patients. Implanted arrays have many small electrodes. Not all electrodes induce perception at the same stimulus amplitude, requiring clinicians to manually establish a visual perception threshold for each one. Phosphenes created by single-electrode stimuli can also vary in shape, size, and brightness. Computational models provide a tool to predict inter-electrode variability and automate device programming. In this study, we created statistical and patient-specific field-cable models to investigate inter-electrode variability across seven epiretinal prosthesis users. Our statistical analysis revealed that retinal thickness beneath the electrode correlated with perceptual threshold, with a significant fixed effect across participants. Electrode-retina distance and electrode impedance also correlated with perceptual threshold for some participants, but these effects varied by individual. We developed a novel method to construct patient-specific field-cable models from optical coherence tomography images. Predictions with these models significantly correlated with perceptual threshold for 80% of participants. Additionally, we demonstrated that patient-specific field-cable models could predict retinal activity and phosphene size. These computational models could be beneficial for determining optimal stimulation settings in silico, circumventing the trial-and-error testing of a large parameter space in clinic.