A vision: blind man sees wife for first time in 10 years

A 68-year-old blind man is overcome with emotion upon seeing his wife for the first time in more than a decade with the help of a bionic eye implant. Video: Reuters

A 68-year-old blind man was able to see his wife for the first time in more than a decade, thanks to a bionic eye and the help of doctors at Minnesota's Mayo Clinic.

Allen Zderad was struck with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa about 20 years ago, leaving him effectively blind for the last ten. He was only able to see bright light.

The Mayo Clinic says that there is no effective treatment or cure for his condition, but a new clinical trial system called Second Sight, is giving Zderad renewed hope.

With the help of a "bionic" eye device, he can now make out shapes and human forms, including his own reflection in the window.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, it works by sending "light wave signals to the optic nerve, bypassing the damaged retina."

First, a tiny chip was implanted in Zderad's right eye, then after two weeks, the rest of the prosthetic device was attached to glasses and activated.

Upon seeing his wife for the first time in more than a decade, Zderad was overcome with emotion, at times laughing and crying.

"It's crude, but it's significant," said the grandfather of ten. "It'll work."

His wife Carmen was also emotional, embracing her husband as he marveled at his newfound vision.

Doctors say this is just the beginning of his treatment, but that Zderad's optimistic attitude makes him a perfect candidate for the trial.

Reuters

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