People with degenerative eye diseases might someday see the world in a new light as researchers at Stanford University have invented a new type of prosthetic implant that could send visual inputs to the brain.

The wireless prosthetic works on near-infrared light to transmit signals.

The device works like video goggles for gaming but here the signal pulses are beamed to a photovoltaic silicon chip placed beneath the retina.

The wearer would have a small camera in the goggles plus a pocket PC to process the visual data.

"It works like the solar panels on your roof, converting light into electric current. But instead of the current flowing to your refrigerator, it flows into your retina,” said Daniel Palanker, associate professor of ophthalmology and lead author of the study.

The device has shown encouraging results in ganglion cells and the device is now being tested on animal models.

The weight of the prosthetic plus its simplicity might give it an edge over competing prosthetics that require wiring for relay of visual data.

"The current implants are very bulky, and the surgery to place the intraocular wiring for receiving, processing and power is difficult. The surgeon needs only to create a small pocket beneath the retina and then slip the photovoltaic cells inside it,” said Palanker.

According to National Eye Institute, Age-Related Macular Degeneration is a common eye condition among people age 50 or older. It is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults. It gradually destroys the macula, the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision needed for seeing objects clearly.

The prosthetic will help people with AMD as well as retinitis pigmentosa - an eye disease where the retina is damaged. This condition is genetic and is uncommon in U.S with only one among 4000 people suffering from the disease.

However, AMD is far more prevalent. According to estimates, by 2020, U.S. will have about 2.90 million people with AMD.

The study is published in the journal Nature Photonics.