Bionic eye restores blind man’s sight

22 Jul 2015

A bionic eye implant has restored the eyesight of a man who lost his central vision because of AMD, which affects 2m people worldwide.

A man in the UK has become the first person in the world to receive a bionic eye implant that corrects age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Doctors at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital have proven that the bionic eye created by Second Sight also works on AMD.

AMD is the most common cause of vision loss in adults and it is understood that the man had no central vision prior to the bionic eye being installed.

Second Sight’s Argus II bionic eye has already been used to help people around the world with a rare disease called retinitis pigmentosa (RP) see again.

The bionic eye has helped Ray Flynn, who lost his central vision due to AMD.

The implant works with an eyeglass-mounted camera and the footage from the camera is converted into signals that are wirelessly transplanted to the implant, which then stimulates the wearer’s retinal cells.

This then causes the cells to send signals to the brain.

Living with blindness

AMD mostly affects people over 30 and is one of the most common causes of blindness in adults.

The implant was performed at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital in the UK by Dr Paulo Stanga MD, consultant ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, and Professor of Ophthalmology and Retinal Degeneration at the University of Manchester.

The device was activated approximately two weeks after implantation, and initial reports confirm that the subject is receiving some useful vision from the Argus II system.

It is estimated that 2m individuals worldwide are legally blind due to AMD and 375,000 people are blinded by RP.

“We are very excited to begin such an important study for this patient population and to have the opportunity to help a great deal more people living with blindness,” Second Sight CEO Dr Robert Greenberg said.

“Though it is obviously still early in this clinical trial, we are very encouraged by these initial results.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years