22 Jul 2015

Bionic eye fitted in world first implant

11:10 am on 22 July 2015

Surgeons in Manchester have performed the world's first bionic eye implant on a patient with the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world.

Researcher Mandy Li displays a prototype bionic eye designed to help patients suffering from degenerative vision loss caused by retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration at University of Melbourne on March 30, 2010. AFP PHOTO/William WEST

An Australian researcher with a prototype of the bionic eye Photo: AFP

The patient had dry age-related macular degeneration, which led to the total loss of his central vision.

An 80-year-old Manchester man, Ray Flynn, had only peripheral vision before the surgery. But he can see better now, thanks to special glasses and a retinal implant in his eye.

The glasses hold a small camera that sends video images as electrical pulses to electrodes implanted at the back of his eye. The retina of the eye then passes this visual information on to his brain.

The surgeon who carried out the procedure, Professor Paulo Stanga said Mr Flynn is now seeing the outlines of people and objects very effectively.

"This provides hope to patients with not only this condition but also to other patients with loss of central vision due to degenerative diseases," said Professor Stanga. "So this is just the beginning, and this could be the beginning of a new era."

Mr Flynn said he was "delighted" with the implant, and he hoped in time it would improve his vision sufficiently to help him with day-to-day tasks like gardening and shopping.

Age-related macular degeneration affects at least half a million people in Britain.

- BBC

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