Dry age-related macular degeneration is a condition that robs sight from the center of a person’s vision as the macular tissue within the eye deteriorate. Picture by Peter Byrne/ PA Wire.
However, this is the first time a patient with peripheral vision has received one, making it the first known case of a human having combined natural and artificial sight.
“He is the first patient to be implanted with Argus II as part of a trial we are doing that aims to establish whether patients with vision loss due to Dry AMD can benefit from an artificial retina”. Mr Flynn is affected by dry AMD which does not affect his outer vision but is currently untreatable.
The operation took four hour and the doctors has wrapped the retinal implant around the back of patient right eye. The implant was switched live on July 1. That has now disappeared: I can now walk round the garden and see things.
“It’s definitely improved my vision”. “I don’t think I will for a little while”.
He was given an implant into his retina and a camera mounted on a pair of glasses sends wireless signals direct to the nerves which control sight.
These pulses stimulate the retina’s remaining cells resulting in the corresponding perception of patterns of light in the brain.
The patient then learns to interpret these visual patterns to regain a few visual function.
Now Mr Flynn will be able to read recipes without a magnifying glass, recognise the faces of his family and friends and, while wearing the special glasses, he will even be able to see with his eyes shut.
Unmarried Mr Flynn was a regular at Old Trafford in his younger days and also regularly watched Manchester United play in Europe.
“Watching the first game of the season should be a new experience”.
The bionic eye has already been used successfully for people suffering the condition retinitis pigmentosa but Consultant Ophthalmologist Paulo Stanga at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital wanted to know if it would work for people with AMD.
Mr Flynn said he had to sit very close to the television to see anything.
“We are very excited by this trial and hope that this technology might help people, including children with other forms of sight loss”.
‘Ray had to do everything with his peripheral vision – it’s very tiring, it is exhausting.
“This is new information that Ray’s brain is receiving and his brain now needs to get use to interpreting it”.
George Freeman MP, Minister for Life Sciences, said: “This ground-breaking research highlights the crucial role of the NHS as a test bed for 21st century medicine”.
The successful operation on Flynn marks the first time the device has been used to treat age-related macular degeneration.
Experts last night hoped the scientific breakthrough at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital could mean a brighter and clearer future for the 25 million Dry AMD sufferers around the world including 500,000 in Britain.
Dry AMD is a much more common disease than wet AMD and before this study had no cure.