'Bionic' eye operation restores vision to blind

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London, Apr 22 (UNI) It is not all darkness for those suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic eye disease which cause progressive loss of vision over decades.

Two blind men who never hoped to see their families again have had their vision restored by Britain's first 'bionic' eye operations.

Surgeons at Moorfields Eye Hospital in central London performed the operations to implant the artificial retinal devices which take signals from a camera mounted in a pair of glasses.

The technology allows enough vision to find doorways, follow individuals, locate objects across the room and help with eating.

The camera and transmitter in the glasses send a wireless signal to the ultra-thin electronic receiver and electrode panel which are attached to the retina. The electrodes stimulate the remaining retinal nerves, allowing a signal to be passed along the optic nerve to the brain which perceives patterns of light and dark spots, giving a basic level of vision to the patient.

A wireless microprocessor and battery pack worn on the belt powers the entire device.

''The devices were implanted successfully in both patients and they are recovering well from the operations,'' Dr Lyndon da Cruz, who performed the operations, said.

The identity of the two patients, thought to be in their 50s, was however, being kept secret.

The operations were carried out last week as part of a Europeanwide clinical trial, under the supervision of American colleagues who developed the device with the company Second Sight in the US, said a Daily Mail report.

The US developers are now trying to shrink the camera so that it can be implanted into an eyeball. These pea-sized video cameras could be ready for surgical use in three to five years.

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