Blind patients given 'bionic eyes'

New hope has been given to sufferers of a hereditary disease affecting the retina after the first UK operations were carried out to implant so-called "bionic eyes" into patients, it was disclosed today.

Surgeons at Moorfields Eye Hospital have carried out successful operations to implant an artificial retinal device into the eyes of two blind patients as part of a clinical study.

The trial aims to restore a basic level of useful vision, in the form of spots of light and shapes of light and dark, to people suffering severe blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a group of inherited eye diseases that affects the retina.

The technology consists of a tiny camera and transmitter mounted in a pair of glasses.

The camera transmits a wireless signal to an ultra-thin electronic receiver and electrode panel that are implanted in the eye and attached to the retina.

The electrodes stimulate the remaining retinal nerves allowing a signal to be passed along the optic nerve to the brain.

The brain perceives patterns of light and dark spots corresponding to the electrodes which are stimulated.

The operations were carried out by consultant retinal surgeon Lyndon da Cruz and his team at Moorfields in London, under the supervision of US colleagues who developed the device with the company Second Sight in the US.

Mr da Cruz said: "Moorfields is proud to have been one of only three sites in Europe chosen to be part of evolving this exciting new technology.

"The devices were implanted successfully in both patients and they are recovering well from the operations.

"It is very special to be part of a programme developing a totally new type of treatment for patients who would otherwise have no chance of visual improvement."

British Retinitis Pigmentosa Society (BRPS) chief executive David Head, said: "These are significant advances and in conjunction with the advances being made in stem cell therapy and gene therapy, make for really exciting times as we work to translate science into treatment.

"I'm encouraged, and cautiously optimistic, that treatments are perhaps being developed in a time scale that is meaningful for people who have retinitis pigmentosa now.

"The society has been fighting RP for 32 years and there's no doubt these are some of the most promising developments we have seen."

Professor John Marshall, of St Thomas' Hospital, London, and chairman of the BRPS medical advisory board, warned that it was still "very early days."

He said: "It is very, very good news that devices have been developed, it is very good news that in experimental trials some individuals have had these inserted.

"However, the general public should not run away with the idea that this is going to be routine surgery for blind people in the immediate future because there is an enormous amount to learn."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?