The First Bionic Eye Implant in the World


On the authority of the BBC News, surgeons in Manchester, England, have conducted the first bionic eye implant in patient Ray Flynn, 80, who suffers from dry age-related macular degeneration. This is the most frequently diagnosed cause of sight loss in the industrialized world and in Flynn’s case has led to the complete loss of his central vision. The implant functions as a retinal implant that creates video images from a tiny video camera positioned on his glasses.

Mr. Flynn, who states he is “delighted” by the implant can now discern the direction of white lines on a computer screen from the retinal implant. His primary hope is in the future the implant would increase his vision to a point to aid him in performing every day tasks such as gardening and going grocery shopping.

Named the Argus II implant, this bionic device is produced by Second Sight, which is a firm based in the United States. It has been used under other circumstances to provide some vision to patients who are blind from a rare condition called retinitis pigmentosa.

Mr. Flynn’s procedure, conducted at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, is the first occasion it has been implanted with his condition. Unfortunately age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is contracted by a minimum of half a million citizens in the UK to some degree.

The surgery took four hours to complete and was led by Paulo Stanga, a consultant ophthalmologist and vitreo-retinal surgeon at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and and professor of ophthalmology and retinal regeneration at the University of Manchester.

According to BBC News, he said: “Mr Flynn’s progress is truly remarkable, he is seeing the outline of people and objects very effectively. I think this could be the beginning of a new era for patients with sight loss.”

Four other individuals with the same condition as Mr. Flynn will also undergo the surgery to receive the implant at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital as part of a clinical trial.

Professor Stanga said, “We hope these patients will develop some central visual function which they can work in alongside and complement their peripheral vision. We are very excited by this trial and hope that this technology might help people, including children with other forms of sight loss.”

The total price tag for the Argus II is roughly £150,000, which encompasses treatment costs, despite patients participating at the trial receiving the implant for free.

According to BBC News, Gregoire Cosendai of Second Sight Medical Products, described the AMD study as “totally groundbreaking research”.