For the first time in the field of ophthalmology, a patient suffering from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) got his vision back after a successful bionic eye implant.
In the age category of seniors over 50, AMD is the number one cause for blindness, and that was also the case for UK citizen Ray Flynn, 80, before a team of surgeons at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital performed a miracle on him.
Although he received his implant in early June, Flynn’s bionic eye was not activated until July 1. Even after that, tests were held back until this Wednesday when he underwent the first tests of the implant.
To everyone’s joy, Flynn’s new eye helped him distinguish shapes of people and objects – a first in more than two decades since he started developing symptoms of AMD. It’s not just the amazing successful surgery that made Flynn’s case remarkable, but also the technology responsible for his treatment.
Professor Paulo Stanga, the doctor behind the groundbreaking 4-hour-long surgery, often lectures at the University of Manchester on retinal regeneration. He explained that visually impaired people who benefit from this technology are provide with patterns they can use in order to identify important objects, such as tables, doorframes, or shapes of people.
As the number one cause for blindness in the West, AMD affects more than 500,000 people, who end up having their central vision impaired – and these numbers represent Britain’s situation alone. According to his doctor, Flynn’s bionic eye has offered him remarkable progress.
Second Sight, a company in the US focusing on designing eye implants, is the one behind the Argus II implant – which Stanga called “revolutionary and life-changing.” Originally aimed at improving the lifestyle of retinitis pigmentation patients, the implant includes special glasses and a video processing unit (VPU).
The works behind the implant are easy: antennae are implanted into the affected eye; the glasses catch the sight the patient looks at; a signal is sent to the VPU; and the unit processes the image and sends it back to the glasses.
Current technology won’t be able to offer Flynn – or other AMD patients – a highly detailed vision, but distinguishing patterns of people and objects via the glasses is more than they could’ve hoped for a decade ago.
Image Source: Mirror.co.uk