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As optical communications may soon supplement Wi-Fi technologies, a concept known as visible light communications (VLC), low-cost receivers must provide extreme sensitivity to alleviate attenuation factors and overall power usage within communications link budgets. We present circuits with an advantage over conventional optical receivers, in that gain can be applied within the photodiode thus reducing the need for amplification circuits. To achieve this, single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) can be implemented in complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technologies and have already been investigated in several topologies for VLC. The digital nature of SPADs removes the design effort used for low-noise, high-gain but high-bandwidth analogue circuits. We therefore present one of these circuit topologies, along with some common design and performance metrics. SPAD receivers are however not yet mature prompting research to take low-level parameters up to the communications level.