Curing genetic blindness with space-enhanced artificial retinas


LambdaVision seeks to cure genetic blindness with a protein-based artificial retina. Harnessing microgravity in low-Earth orbit, the company collaborates with NASA and the ISS to perfect its manufacturing process.

©adimas –

Image credit: ©adimas –

Founded in 2009, LambdaVision is aiming to develop the world’s first cure for genetic blindness, and it's looking to space for the answer.

LambdaVision is designing and developing an innovative, protein-based artificial retina that utilizes a light-activated protein, bacteriorhodopsin, to restore functional sight to those who would otherwise be blind due to retinal degenerative diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP).1

To make the retina, the company is looking to low-Earth orbit (LEO) to take advantage of the microgravity, because lab workers need to deposit 200 paper-thin layers of light-sensitive protein in a polymer mesh. The company is leveraging microgravity to improve upon the layer-by-layer assembly methodology, as, according to the company, it “appears to be improved in a LEO environment where reduced gravity improves homogeneity, stability, and performance of thin films like the protein-based artificial retina.”2

Since the process is tedious on Earth, the company has turned toward NASA and the International Space Station (ISS) in hopes the LEO can help production quality.

According to the company, their partnership with Space Tango, which secured >$7.7 million in funding from NASA, and its work with the ISS US National Laboratory has allowed the company to successfully validate a microgravity manufacturing method for producing LambdaVision’s artificial retina on the ISS. Furthermore, LambdaVision has recently secured 2 NASA SBIR grants, including a $5 million award in 2020, and the company will continue to explore new frontiers related to in-space manufacturing.2

In space, “you get nice even layers” of the protein with less wasted material, Nicole Wagner, LambdaVision’s CEO, told Bloomberg. “The goal is to be one of the first products manufactured in space that would be used here on Earth,” Wagner said.1

LamdaVision has conducted 8 missions to the ISS, and has consistently met the goal of manufacturing multiple 200-layer artificial retina thin films in microgravity.

The ninth mission to the ISS is planned to take place in Q1 of 2024.


  1. Drug startup aims to cure blindness by developing medications in space. Released December 5, 2023. Accessed December 11, 2023.
  2. LamdaVision Space Strategy. Accessed December 11, 2023.
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