Rare surgery: Bionic eye gives blind man 'sight'

4 Mar 2009, 1653 hrs IST, PTI

LONDON: In one of the rare surgical feats, British doctors have fitted a blind man with a bionic eye that has given the 73-year-old "eyesight".

A team at the Moorfield's Eye Hospital in London, led by Lyndon da Cruz, has carried out the "experimental" surgery seven months back on Ron who lost his sight 30 years ago, the 'BBC News' portal reported.

The bionic eye, known as Argus II and developed by US company Second Sight, uses a camera and video processor mounted on sunglasses to send captured images wirelessly to a tiny receiver on the outside of eye, according to the doctors.

And, 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 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, they said.

Cruz was quoted as saying: "We are very encouraged by the trial's progress so far. The implants have been stable and functioning for six months, with consistent visual perceptions generated by the device.

"The trial remains inspiring in terms of presenting a very real and tangible step forward in treating patients with total vision loss. But with more than two years of the trial left to run, these are early days and continued testing will be crucial in determining the success of the new technology."

Ron, who has not revealed his surname, said: "For 30 years I've seen absolutely nothing at all, it's all been black but now light is coming through. Suddenly to be able to see light again is truly wonderful.

"I can actually sort out white socks, grey socks and black socks. My one ambition at the moment is to be able to go out on a nice, clear evening and be able to pick up the moon."