British patients fitted with bionic eyes can see again

Two blind men in the UK can see again soon after doctors have successfully implanted in them "bionic eye" microchips, a breakthrough that raise hope for millions suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that leads to blindness.

Chris James, a blind for over 20 years who has undergone the procedure at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital, said he is now able to see a rough outline of simple shapes.
Surgeons, led by Prof Robert MacLaren, who fitted the 3mm chip similar to those used in mobile phone cameras at the back of James' eye in a complex eight-hour operation, said they believe in time James will be able to recognise faces, once his brain learns to see again, the Daily Mail reported.

Robin Millar, 60, form London, is the other patients who has been fitted with the chip along with 1,500 electrodes, which are implanted below the retina.

Millar, a music producer, said: "Since switching on the device I am able to detect light and distinguish the outlines of certain objects which is an encouraging sign.

"I have even dreamt in very vivid colour for the first time in 25 years so a part of my brain which had gone to sleep has woken up!     "I feel this is incredibly promising for future research and I'm happy to be contributing to this legacy."

Eye experts developing the pioneering new technology said the first group of British patients to receive the electronic microchips were regaining "useful vision" just weeks after undergoing surgery.

The success of the implants, they said, will offer fresh hope for people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa (RP)-- a genetic eye condition that leads to incurable blindness.

Ten more sufferers will be fitted with the devices as part of the British trial, which is being led by Tim Jackson, a retinal surgeon at King's College Hospital and Prof MacLaren of the University of Oxford.

"We are excited to be involved in this pioneering subretinal implant technology and to announce the first patients implanted in the UK were successful," they said.

"The visual results of these patients exceeded our expectations. This technology represents a genuinely exciting development and is an import step forward in our attempts to offer people with RP a better quality of life."

Comments (+)