‘Bionic’ granny is the first in the UK to use a ‘revolutionary’ microchip that could help her see properly again | Science and technology news
An 88-year-old grandmother, who has lost sight in her left eye, has become the first person in the UK to use a ‘revolutionary’ new bionic chip to detect signals in it.
The woman suffers from geographic atrophy – the most common form of dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
This creates a blind spot in the center of the eye.
It is estimated that the disease affects more than five million people worldwide.
The eighty-year-old from Dagenham, London, received the implant at Moorfields Eye Hospital as part of a Europe-wide clinical trial.
In a statement, she said she hoped the implant would allow her to do the things she loved again.
“Loss of vision in my left eye from dry AMD has kept me from doing the things I love like gardening, playing bocce ball and painting with watercolors,” she said.
“I’m thrilled to be the first to have this implant and look forward to the prospect of being able to enjoy my hobbies again and I really hope many others will benefit as well.”
How does the ‘revolutionary’ new bionic chip work?
The implant works by surgically inserting a 2mm wide microchip under the center of a patient’s retina.
The patient then wears special glasses that contain a video camera connected to a small computer that is attached to the waistband of the pants.
The chip captures the video provided by the glasses and in turn transmits it to the computer, which uses artificial intelligence algorithms to process this information and control the focus of the glasses.
Finally, the glasses project this image as an infrared beam back through the eye to the chip, which converts this into an electrical signal that travels through the retinal cells back to the brain.
The brain then interprets this signal as if it were natural vision.
“Hope” for AMD sufferers
The research is supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Center at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.
Mahi Muqit, consultant vitreoretinal surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, said the device “offers hope” for people suffering from vision loss due to dry AMD.
“The success of this surgery and the evidence gathered through this clinical trial will provide the evidence to determine the true potential of this treatment,” he said.