An Indian-origin eye surgeon has announced what is being described as a major advance in efforts to help the blind see.
Dr Lyndon da Cruz said on Wednesday that clinical trials he had conducted over several years with a bionic eye had enabled his blind patients to read simple letters and words.
Da Cruz, Goan-origin lead clinician for the project at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, said 75% of the patients, who were suffering from the hereditary disease reginitis pigmentosa, could make out simple letters and a smaller number could read four-letter words.
"We've been able to demonstrate that most of the patients were able to have core vision and, at best, very good vision, given that they were totally blind," da Cruz, a frequent visitor to his ancestral town of Saligao, told HT.
Developed in the US, the bionic eye is a tiny video camera mounted in glasses that is wirelessly linked to a receiver and microelectrode array implanted onto the patient's retina.
One of the blind patients, Richard Barrett, told Sky News: "When I am indoors I can see where windows are. To go to a door you can scan and pick up where the door frame is. If you have a path and grass down one side, you can pick up the edge of the path. That's where the device comes into its own."
Da Cruz, who has published the results of the trial in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, told HT the next challenge is to widen his patients' field of vision.