NHS England has revealed that it will give 10 blind patients an experimental bionic eye that could restore their sight.
The 10 patients all suffer from Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), an inherited disease that causes blindness.
The procedures will take place at Manchester Eye Hospital (MREH) and Moorfields Eye Hospital where surgeons will spend the following year monitoring the patients and assessing just how effective the device is in restoring vision.
All ten operations will take place in 2017 with patients being monitored for a further 12 months after that.
The Argus II Bionic Eye has actually been in use since late 2015 and already has a proven record of being able to restore a person’s vision to such a degree that the user can even make out facial features.
It works by placing an implant directly into the retina, this is then connected to an external camera which is worn on the head.
Electrical signals are then sent from the camera to the implant which are finally decoded by the brain.
Grandfather-of-five from Lancashire, Keith Hayman, 68, was one of three patients who was fitted with the bionic eye as a treatment for Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Having been blind for 25 years after being diagnosed in his 20s, the implant meant that Hayman was finally able to distinguish light changes around him as well as make out rudimentary shapes.
He said: “Having spent half my life in darkness, I can now tell when my grandchildren run towards me and make out lights twinkling on Christmas trees. I would be talking to a friend, who might have walked off and I couldn’t tell and kept talking to myself. This doesn’t happen anymore, because I can tell when they have gone. These little things make all the difference to me”