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Retinal implant offers sight hope for blind

Two blind patients receive retinal implants in first UK operation

OnMedica Staff

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Two blind patients have successfully had electronic devices implanted into their eyes in an attempt to restore some level of vision.

The patients have retinitis pigmentosa, a group of inherited eye diseases that affect the retina. It is hoped that the electronic retinal device will restore a basic level of useful vision, in the form of spots of light and shapes of light and dark.

The Argus II devices were implanted at Moorfields eye hospital. It is the first time such an operation has been carried out in Britain.

The Argus II technology consists of a tiny camera and transmitter mounted in a pair of glasses. This camera transmits a wireless signal via a small processing device to an ultra thin electronic receiver, and electrode panel that is 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 which electrodes are stimulated.

Lyndon da Cruz, a consultant retinal surgeon at the hospital, 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."

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