By Adrian Galbreth
A British man has defied what medical professionals have been saying for centuries and has proved that it is possible for blind people to see again.
Chris James had been completely blind for more than two decades, but has become the first person in the UK to be fitted with a digital chip that can help restore sight.
The procedure was filmed by Sky News, who explained that the bionic implant inserted into his eye is similar to technology used in modern mobile phones.
The chip is 3mm square and packed with 1,500 pixels and works by converting light that fall onto the chip into electrical signals and sending them to the brain, where they are picked up by nerves and converted in the part of the brain which processes visuals.
At the moment, the chip, which has been developed by the company Retinal Implant, only provides a window of vision equivalent to a CD being held at arm's length.
Initially, the patient only sees a grainy, black and white image, but experts believe that over time the brain will learn to recognise what the eyes are seeing and people's perception of objects will improve.
Mr James told Sky that he has been blind for so long that his brain is adapting to make sense of images and that, although he can see the curvature of a plate, for example, he cannot see a whole circle.
"I've always had that thought that one day I would be able to see again. This is not a cure, but it may put the world into some perspective. It'll give me some imagery rather than just a black world," he added.
According to professor Robert MacLaren, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Oxford, where the producer was carried out in conjunction with specialists from King's College Hospital London, the first operation has been a big success.
"With the first operation, with the new technology and the complexity of everything, we are all absolutely delighted with the result," he told the news provider.
by Adrian Galbreth