Limited trials of a bionic eye that could restore sight to the blind have produced “astonishing” results, says a new study.
The tiny implantable microchip permitted patients, who had given up on seeing again, read a clock and identify daily objects.
The wafer-thin device is to be implanted for the first time in Oxford and London, with surgery scheduled within weeks, the Daily Mail reported.
If these and similar operations in Europe validate the efficacy of the device, manufactured by a German firm Retina Implant, it could be available by 2013.
Most of the middle-aged patients were to be treated for retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary disease that destroys the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye.
A microchip packed with 1,500 light sensors is implanted to the back of the eye, to restore sight to those who lost it to the disease.
The sensors convert light to electrical signals, which stimulate nerves in the retina to pass down signals to optic nerve which would gap into the brain to form an image.
Robert MacLaren, surgeon who led the trial, cautioned that the surgery is still experimental and the device does not work in all cases.