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Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living

World First Bionic Eye Gives Hope To Millions

Date: 22/7/2015
Summary: A pensioner has become the first person in the world suffering from the most common form of blindness to be fitted with a bionic eye.

Ray Flynn, 80, from Audenshaw, Manchester, developed age-related macular degeneration (AMD) eight years ago.

As a result of the condition, which affects 500,000 people in the UK, he is unable to make out faces and struggles to watch his beloved Manchester United play on the television.

But in June the retired engineer was given a ground-breaking operation, leaving him with an electrical implant which sends a video feed to the undamaged cells in his retina from a small camera attached to his glasses.

The Argus II bionic eye is developed by Second Sight Medical Products and the four-hour procedure has been performed on 130 patients worldwide but those people, unlike Mr Flynn, had no peripheral vision.

Now Mr Flynn will be able to read recipes without a magnifying glass, recognise the faces of his family and friends and, while wearing the special glasses, he will even be able to see with his eyes shut.

Mr Flynn had the system turned on for the first time on 1 July and says that, while he is slowly getting used to how it works, it is already improving his life.

"Before, when I was looking at a plant in the garden, it was like a honeycomb in the centre of my eye. That has now disappeared: I can now walk round the garden and see things.

"It has definitely improved my vision but I haven't been out and about on a bus yet. I don't think I will for a little while."

His brother Pete, 77, said they were looking forward to the beginning of the Premier League season with the new sight aid.

"Watching the first game of the season should be a new experience."

Professor Paulo Stanga, consultant ophthalmologist and vitreo-retinal surgeon at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, hailed the operation as a success, adding: "Mr Flynn's progress is truly remarkable. He is seeing the outline of people and objects very effectively.

"Ray had to do everything with his peripheral vision, it's very tiring, it is exhausting, What we are hoping to achieve is to improve Ray's central vision so he does not have to work so hard with his peripheral vision.

"This is new information that Ray's brain is receiving and his brain now needs to get use to interpreting it."

AMD is the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world with between 20 and 25 million sufferers worldwide.

Source Sky News

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