London: The first UK clinical trials of an electronic eye implant, which had been designed to restore the sight of blind people, have proved successful and “exceeded expectations”, according to scientists.
Eye experts developing the pioneering new technology said the first group of British patients to receive the electronic microchips were regaining “useful vision” just weeks after undergoing surgery.
The news will offer fresh hope for people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a genetic eye condition that leads to incurable blindness.
Retina Implant AG, a leading developer of subretinal implants, fitted two RP sufferers with the wireless device in mid-April as part of its UK trial.
The patients were able to detect light immediately after the microchip was activated, while further testing revealed there were also able to locate white objects on a dark background, Retina Implant said.
Ten more British sufferers will be fitted with the devices as part of the British trial, which is being led by Tim Jackson, a consultant retinal surgeon at King’s College Hospital and Robert MacLaren, a professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Oxford and a consultant retinal surgeon at the Oxford Eye Hospital.
“We are excited to be involved in this pioneering subretinal implant technology and to announce the first patients implanted in the UK were successful,” the Telegraph quoted them as saying.
“The visual results of these patients exceeded our expectations. This technology represents a genuinely exciting development and is an import step forward in our attempts to offer people with RP a better quality of life,” they added.
The patients will undergo further testing as they adjust to the 3mm by 3mm device in the coming months.