In a world first, an 80-year-old British man has received a bionic eye implant to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). As a result of AMD, Ray Flynn's central vision became increasingly blurred over the last eight years, which made it difficult for him to see what was directly in front of him. Flynn, and millions of others like him, had to rely on his peripheral vision, worsening his quality of life. The groundbreaking surgery restored Flynn’s central vision from the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world.
The avid football and gardening fan has been given another chance to watch his favorite team – Manchester United – play and see things in his garden again. This is the first time that the Argus II implant, produced by Second Sight, was used in a patient with AMD. The Argus II implant had previously only been used on patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa, who had no peripheral vision.
“Mr Flynn's progress is truly remarkable, he is seeing the outline of people and objects very effectively,” Professor Paulo Stanga, who led the four hour surgery, told the BBC.
“I think this could be the beginning of a new era for patients with sight loss,” he added.
The bionic eye implant allows Flynn to see by receiving video images from a camera built into his glasses. These images are then converted into electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to electrodes on Flynn's retina.
“Before, when I was looking at a plant in the garden it was like a honeycomb in the center of my eye. That has now disappeared. I can now walk round the garden and see things,” Flynn said, according to The Guardian.
“It's 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.”
Tests following the surgery showed that Flynn could see the outlines of people and objects even with his eyes closed. Flynn is also thought to be the first person in the world to have the combined use of natural and artificial sight. The successful surgery of this bionic eye provides hope for those who suffer from AMD, which is estimated to affect between 20 million and 25 million people worldwide.