“On November the second on a Saturday, she was sitting at the dinner table and I was sitting here and I saw her… It was a very special moment.” This was the first time Fred van Rennes saw his wife after losing his sight around 20 years ago.
Fred went blind at the age of 34 due to a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, a condition in which the photoreceptors in the eye stop working properly. But a ground-breaking new ‘bionic eye’ called the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System is helping Fred and others suffering from retinitis pigmentosa to see shapes and patterns for the first time in decades.
The device is made up of a miniature camera placed on a pair of glasses and electrodes which are surgically implanted on the patient’s damaged retina. The camera sends wireless signals to the electrodes, which in turn send small pulses of electricity down the optical nerve to the brain, which slowly learns to interpret the pulses as visual patterns.
Dr Javid Abdelmoneim travels to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to see how this incredible new implant is giving people who are completely blind the chance to see again.