The first person in the world with a bionic eye

The implant corrects for age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of vision loss in adults

Raymond Flynn, 80, a British partially-blind pensioner, has become the first person to be fitted with a bionic eye implant. The eye allows him to see by combining natural and artificial vision. The operation was carried out at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, UK. The implant corrects for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) - AMD takes place quite slowly, but it can result in a complete loss of central vision in the end. It is also the most common cause of vision loss in adults. While Flynn had no central vision at all, now he has gained a low-resolution central vision. The number of people with AMD is expected to increase and as the average life expectancy continues to grow. Between two and three million people have AMD in the US only.
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Vision is a very complex process involving various components, and the eye is indeed one of the most fascinating parts of the human body.
Argus II (the bionic eye name,) is actually a retinal prosthesis made by Second Sight. It receive signals from a camera mounted on a special pair of glasses. The patient must wear this external equipment, for the eye to operate. The implant is an electrode array embedded in the eye's retina, also fitted with a battery and a wireless antenna. The camera-captured scene, after processing, is sent back to the glasses, that beam the signal to the implant's antenna thanks to their embedded transmitter. At the moment the Argus II implant provides a monochrome vision. "Mr Flynn's progress is truly remarkable. He is seeing the outline of people and objects very effectively. As far as I am concerned, the first results of the trial are a total success, and I look forward to treating more patients," said Professor Paulo Stanga, a surgeon at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.