‘Bionic Eye’ Helps Blind Man See

A British man who has been blind for more than 20 years was implanted with a bionic eye that now allows him to see outlines of certain shapes, doctors in London said.

According to Sky News, Chris James, 54, became the first patient to undergo the operation. The “bionic eye” is like a digital chip that is used in cell phone cameras, according to the report.

James inherited an eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, which destroys the retna.

Doctors believe that James may eventually be able to recognize faces as his brain learns to see again.

The bionic eye is being tested in clinical trials.

“I’ve always had that thought that one day I would be able to see again,” James said, according to Sky News. “This is not a cure, but it may put the world into some perspective.”

The Sun reported that the chip is 3 mm microchip and contains 1,500 electrodes.

“Almost immediately I could tell that something was different,” James said, according to The Sun. “I could see light.”

“It’s just a question of learning to see again really,” he added. “I’m able to try to make out the outlines of circles and squares and things.”

The chip was developed by Retina Implant of Germany, according to the University of Oxford.

“What makes this unique is that all functions of the retina are integrated into the chip,” Robert MacLaren, professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Oxford said. “It has 1,500 light sensing diodes and small electrodes that stimulate the overlying nerves to create a pixellated image. Apart from a hearing aid-like device behind the ear, you would not know a patient had one implanted.”

James said in a statement released by the university: “After learning more about the research and the technology, I knew I wanted to get involved. Even if I didn’t stand to gain much from this, I liked the idea of contributing to future research and generations. I guess also I have nothing to lose in all of this.”