Bionic eye gives blind man sight

A man who lost his sight 30 years ago says he can now see flashes of light after being fitted with a bionic eye.

Ron, 73, had the experimental surgery seven months ago at London’s Moorfield’s eye hospital.

He says he can now follow white lines on the road, and even sort socks, using the bionic eye, known as Argus II.

It uses a camera and video processor mounted on sunglasses to send captured images wirelessly to a tiny receiver on the outside of the eye.

In turn, the receiver passes on the data via a tiny cable to an array of electrodes which sit on the retina – the layer of specialised cells that normally respond to light found at the back of the eye.

When these electrodes are stimulated they send messages along the optic nerve to the brain, which is able to perceive patterns of light and dark spots corresponding to which electrodes have been stimulated.

The hope is that patients will learn to interpret the visual patterns produced into meaningful images.

The bionic eye has been developed by US company Second Sight. So far 18 patients across the world, including three at Moorfields, have been fitted with the device.

It is designed to help people, like Ron, who have been made blind through retinitis pigmentosa, a group of inherited eye diseases that cause degeneration of the retina.

The disease progresses over a number of years, normally after people have been diagnosed when they are children.

It is estimated between 20,000 to 25,000 are affected in the UK.

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