Your daily dose of Science and Tech

The first bionic eye implanted in a British patient who had lost his central vision

Surgeons from Manchester, UK have managed to perform the first bionic eye transplant in a patient diagnosed with age-related oracular degeneration (AMD), a condition that causes total loss of central vision and leads to blindness, especially in developed countries.

The patient is called Ray Flynn, aged 80, and he is currently using a retinal implant that converts video recordings from the miniature video camera attached to his glasses into electrical impulses. The bionic eye receives visual information from a miniature camera located on the glasses worn by the patient. The images are transmitted wirelessly to a network of miniature electrodes attached to the retina.The electrodes stimulate the remaining functional cells in the retina, which sends those visual information to the brain.

Using the new technology and the associated retinal implant, Ray can smoothly follow the moving direction of white lines on a computer screen. He can also see the human shapes and various objects. The patient is pleased with this implant and he hopes that, in time, the technology will improve and the future implants can help him in his daily activities, such as gardening and shopping trips.

Argus II_eye_implant

The implant is called Argus II and it is designed by Second Sight, an US company. It has previously been used to establish partial vision into patients blinded by a rare disease called retinitis pigmentosa.

The procedure took 4 hours, it was performed at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and it was the first to use the device on a patient with AMD, a disease affecting at least half a million people in the UK.