A Manchester United fan has got his sight back for the first time in 10 years after receiving a state-of-the-art “bionic eye” and can’t wait for the new Premier League season.
Ray Flynn, 80, from Audenshaw, Manchester, has AMD – advanced dry age related macular degeneration – and is the first patient with AMD in the world to undergo such a procedure.
Check out the video above to find out more.
The retired engineer is also believed to be the first human being to benefit from natural and artificial sight at the same time.
Losing his sight affected the quality of his life as it deteriorated – as a keen cook he was forced to read recipes with a magnifying glass but now he can cast the instrument aside.
He said: “Before when I was looking at a plant in the garden it was like a honeycomb in the centre of my eye. That has now disappeared. I can now walk round the garden and see things.
“It’s definitely improved my vision but I haven’t been out and about on a bus yet. I don’t think I will for a little while.”
AMD is the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world with between 20 and 25 million sufferers worldwide.
The pensioner received an Argus II retinal implant at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital last month. More than 130 patients have received a bionic eye but Ray is the first person with peripheral vision to receive one.
How does it work?
Developed by Second Sight Medical Products, it works by converting video images captured by a miniature camera housed in the patient’s glasses into a series of small electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to electrodes on the surface of the retina.
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 some visual function. Pretty clever hey?
What is Ray looking forward to?
Ray is looking forward to watching the new Premier League season with his brother Pete, 77.
Pete said: “We don’t miss a game on the television but he can’t make out the players on the pitch and he can only watch if he sits in a certain position and looks from the corner of his eye.
“It gets very tiring for him so watching the first game of the season should be a new experience.
“He is also into his cooking and is a fan of Delia Smith. He does a lot of it by instinct but using a magnifying glass to follow a recipe takes him a long time and he tries very hard with that.”
What do the bionic eye scientists have to say?
Professor Paulo Stanga, consultant ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, said: “Mr Flynn’s progress is truly remarkable. He is seeing the outline of people and objects very effectively.
“Ray had to do everything with his peripheral vision, it’s very tiring, it is exhausting, What we are hoping to achieve is to improve Ray’s central vision so he does not have to work so hard with his peripheral vision.
“This is new information that Ray’s brain is receiving and his brain now needs to get use to interpreting it.
“He has not given up on losing his central vision. He is a motivated patient and that is crucial.”
He added: “As far as I am concerned, the first results of the trial are a total success and I look forward to treating more dry AMD patients with the Argus II as part of this trial. We are currently recruiting four more patients to the trial in Manchester.
“On behalf of the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, we feel privileged to be conducting the world’s first study into retinal implants for patients with AMD. This technology is revolutionary and changes patients’ lives – restoring some functional vision and helping them to live more independently.”