'Bionic eye' offers grandmother the chance to enjoy a view of the future

A PATIENT has spoken of her joy after having part of her sight restored by a "bionic eye".

Linda Moorfoot suffers from the eye condition retinitis pigmentosa, which causes blindness.

But now, thanks to technology being developed in the United States, she has been able to enjoy watching her grandchildren dance and play football.

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Scientists have also revealed their latest development – a tiny camera which they hope to actually insert into the eye within the next five years.

The current technology tested by Mrs Moorfoot uses an external camera worn on a pair of dark glasses.

This sends images to a radio receiver implanted near the eye, which transmits a signal on to a tiny silicon and platinum chip that sits on the retina. This information goes down the optic nerve into the brain.

Mrs Moorfoot, who lives in the US, told Sky News: "When I go to the grandkids' hockey game or soccer game I can see which direction the game is moving in.

"I can shoot baskets with my grandson. And I can see my granddaughter dancing across the stage. It's wonderful."

The technology is being developed by Dr Mark Humayun, professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering at the Doheny Eye Institute in Los Angeles, California.

He said developments in improving the sight of people with blindness were now moving fast.

His team have now developed a camera so small and powerful that it could be put inside the patient's eye, rather than worn on a pair of glasses.

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"The camera is very, very small and very low power, so it can go inside your eye and couple your eye movement to where the camera is," Dr Humayun said.

"With this kind of missing information the brain can fill in. This field is really blossoming.

"So in the next four to five years I hope, and we all hope, that we will see technology that's much more advanced."

Doctors at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London are also set to embark on training to implant bionic eyes using the technology currently being used in patients in the United States.

This would allow artificial vision to be introduced for patients in the UK for the first time.

Christina Nicolaidou, spokeswoman for the RNIB, said: "There are around two million people in the UK with sight loss. We would welcome any developments that could prevent sight loss and restore sight.

"This research could be exciting and we will be following it over the next few years to see how it develops."