A British hospital has made the world’s first attempt to treat blindness with a revolutionary gene therapy.

Surgeons at the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London operated on Robert Johnson, who was born with a rare sight disorder known as Leber’s congenital amaurosis (LCA), which deteriorates with age.

Mr Johnson, 23, who had genes inserted into one eye, could see only outlines during the day and very little at night before having the procedure yesterday. He is one of a dozen young patients selected for the first clinical trial to test the new therapy, which has already proved successful at restoring the sight of dogs in tests.

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It will be months before the researchers know whether their work has been a success, but it is thought that the therapy could be used to treat a wide range of inherited sight disorders in adults and children.