Dagenham woman first UK patient to receive bionic eye implant

A Dagenham grandma-of-eight is the first UK patient to receive a bionic eye implant

A Dagenham grandma-of-eight is the first UK patient to receive a new bionic eye implant - Credit: Moorfields Eye Hospital

A Dagenham woman is the first UK patient to receive a new bionic eye implant, allowing her to detect signals in her blind left eye.

The 88-year-old received the new device at Islington's Moorefield Eye Hospital as part of a Europe-wide clinical trial.

The bionic chip offers the hope of partially restoring vision for people with geographic atrophy (GA), the most common form of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The Dagenham mother-of-seven, who cannot be named while the trial is running, said: "Losing the sight in my left eye through dry AMD has stopped me from doing the things I love, like gardening, playing indoor bowls and painting with watercolours.

"I am thrilled to be the first to have this implant, excited at the prospect of enjoying my hobbies again and I truly hope that many others will benefit from this too.”

The Moorfields Eye Hospital patient is the first to receive the treatment in the UK

The Moorfields Eye Hospital patient is the first to receive the treatment in the UK - Credit: Moorfields Eye Hospital

GA is progressive and currently has no treatment - it affects 6.7 per cent of people over 80, with 12pc of over 80s affected by dry AMD more generally.

The new procedure involves inserting a 2mm-wide microchip under the centre of a patient’s retina by surgically creating a trapdoor.

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The patient uses special glasses developed by Pixium Vision, which contain a video camera connected to a small computer attached to their waistband.

The chip captures the "visual scene" projected by the glasses and transmits this to the computer.

Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms process this information and instruct the glasses to focus on what it perceives to be the main object in the image.

The glasses project this image as an infra-red beam through the eye to the chip, which converts this into an electrical signal.

The patient uses glasses containing a video camera 

The patient uses glasses containing a video camera - Credit: Moorfields Eye Hospital

This signal passes through the retina cells and optical cells into the brain, where it is interpreted as if it were natural vision.

Four to six weeks after being inserted, the implant is tested by switching the chip on.

The patient then goes through a rehabilitation programme to learn how to use their new vision.

Moorfields consultant vitreoretinal surgeon Mahi Muqit called the device "ground-breaking".

He added: "The success of this operation, and the evidence gathered through this clinical study, will provide the evidence to determine the true potential of this treatment.”

The research is supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. 

The patient said she hopes to start gardening, playing indoor bowls and painting with watercolours again

The patient said she hopes to start gardening, playing indoor bowls and painting with watercolours again - Credit: Moorfields Eye Hospital