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'Bionic eye' for blind patients

22nd April 2008

Doctors at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London have trialled a 'bionic eye' which could restore vision to patients who are blind because of an inherited disease.

surgeonatwork

A trial is underway at the hospital, with the aim of helping patients with retinitis pigmnetosa.

The disease, which affects around 25,000 people in the UK, is inherited and causes a person's vision usually deteriorates over years, which results in blindness.

Two male subjects have both received treatment with the eye, which has a connection to a camera on a pair of spectacles.

An electronic receiver panel is surgically implanted into the patient's retina and receives wireless signals from the camera. The panel stimulates nerves in the retina which send signals to the brain.

The eye, called Argus II, has been made by Second Sight, a company in the United States.

It has been reported that the eye can help to give people back "basic" sight, but further research is needed.

David Head, chief executive of the British Retinitis Pigmentosa Society, said the treatment was still in "its early days...there is currently no treatment for patients so this device and research into stem cells therapies offers the best hope."

Lyndon da Cruz performed the surgeries and said the use of the eye was "exciting".

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






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