10 patients with an inherited form of blindness with be given ‘bionic eyes’ courtesy of the NHS.
The bionic eye is a retinal implant which interprets images captured by a miniature video camera worn on a pair of glasses.
The treatment with start in 2017 with five patients being treated at Moorfields Eye Hospital and five at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.
For one year they will be monitored to see how they get on in everyday life.
Professor Paulo Stanga, from Manchester hospital, has been involved with ongoing trials of the Argus II Bionic Eye and is said to be delighted with this latest development.
The bionic eye has made a life-changing impact in trials with retinitis pigmentosa patients. One using the technology could identify large letters for the first time in his adult life. The disease is often passed down through families and destroys the cells in the retina that sense light, which leads to vision loss and in time blindness.
Others with retinitis pigmentosa, who have spent their life in darkness unable to tell if a person was in front of them or not, are able to see light and people walking towards and away from them.
The bionic eye implant receives its visual information from a miniature camera mounted on glasses worn by the patient.
The images are converted into electrical pulses and transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes attached to the retina.
The electrodes stimulate the remaining retina’s remaining cells which send the information to the brain.
This is the first time that any treatment for this particular type of blindness has been available, which is a massive victory for blind people in the UK.
Dr Jonathan Fielden, from NHS England, said: “This highly innovative NHS-funded procedure shows real promise and could change lives.
“The NHS has given the world medical innovations ranging from modern cataract surgery, new vaccines and hip replacements, now once again the NHS is at the forefront of harnessing ground-breaking science for the benefit of patients in this country.”