Europe

First British patient fitted with bionic eye

Man becomes first person in U.K. to be fitted with revolutionary device which allows those who've lost their sight to regain limited vision

 

A blind man given a bionic eye implant that gives him rudimentary vision became the first British patient to be fitted with a digital chip similar to those used in mobile phone cameras.

Chris James, who had been totally blind for more than 20 years, is able to see a rough outline of simple shapes, and doctors believe that in time -- as his brain "learns" to see again -- he could recognize faces.

"I've always had that thought that one day I would be able to see again," James said. "This is not a cure, but it may put the world into some perspective. It'll give me some imagery rather than just a black world."

Surgeons at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital and King's College Hospital in London are testing the implant in a clinical trial of up to 12 patients with retinitis pigmentosa. The inherited eye disease destroys the retina -- the "seeing" part of the eye.

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