'Bionic eye' to help the blind 'see'

Melbourne, Dec 21 (ANI): Blind people may soon be able to regain their sight - with help of a 'bionic eye'.

The recruitment process has begun for the first UK trial of the 'bionic eye, which can restore sight to blind people.

The microchip implant has already been tested in Germany, where it allowed patients to read letters and recognise objects.

Surgeons at King's College Hospital, London, hope to select six patients for the trial, due to get under way in March, reports the Scotsman.

A German company made device, fits under the retina and works like a digital film camera. A 3mm sq array of 1,500 light sensors sends pulsed electrical signals to adjoining nerve cells, which relay the messages to the brain.

The implant is designed to help patients with retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disorder, which gradually destroys the retina.

Previously, it was tested in Germany on three blind patients. Within days of the surgery, the two men and one woman could things on the table, walk around a room with confidence, tell the time from a clock, and distinguish between subtle shades of grey.

The results were published last month in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Tim Jackson, who will head the King's College team, said: "We are delighted to be involved in testing this pioneering technology. The results demonstrated by the German team are genuinely impressive, and they represent an important step towards artificial vision that could greatly enhance the quality of life for people with an incurable, blinding disease."

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