The BBC have reported wonderful news: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35220615 arising from a clinical trial at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.
‘Six patients who have had little or no sight for many years are having a cutting-edge “bionic eye” implanted in an attempt to give them some sight, and independence, back’.
The BBC’s article explains Rhian Lewis from Cardiff was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (which destroys light sensitive cells in the retina) which left her blind in her right eye and almost completely so in her left eye.
In summer a device (which replaces the light-sensitive retinal cells in the eye) was implanted into Rhian Lewis’ right eye. The device was connected to a tiny computer placed under the skin behind her ear. When switched on a signal travels to her brain via her optic nerve. Within seconds of the device being switched on Rhian Lewis (who had seen nothing with her right eye for over 16 years) experienced a “flashing” in her eye.
That flashing, became more like a line at the top and bottom of her eye and with the passage of time is now “..more of a shimmer..much less distracting and a little more accurate.”
The clinical trial team have performed tests and an elated Rhian was “chuffed…like a kid at Christmas!” to be able to locate shapes on a table; outside to be able to see the sun shining on a silver car and to realise it had gone dark when walking beneath a tree.
Rhian Lewis describes the excitement and “..pure elation..pure joy..” she experiences at being able, for the first time in 16 or 17 years, to locate items such as spoons and forks on a table. She continues to practise interpreting the signals and regaining her independence. We wish her very well indeed for the future.
The clinical trial continues, with the team reportedly hopeful that if it is successful there may be a possibility of the implant being made available on the NHS and that the technology may one day apply to other eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration.
We have successfully acted for (and secured damages/compensation) for many clients who have been left partially or totally blind e.g. Malcolm who lost sight in one eye following a paint-balling accident; John who suffered a knife-wound to one eye whilst working as a butcher and Ian who suffered chemical burns to both eyes whilst at work.
We know how devastating loss of eyesight can be.
Rhian Lewis’ blindness was not accident-related and even with her condition she “still had an intact optic nerve and all the brain wiring needed for vision”. Whilst the clients we have mentioned may not have benefited from technology such as that mentioned above, we always carefully consider how, if possible, our client’s lives may be improved by advances in medication, therapies, treatment, aids, equipment and technology.