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Blind woman given bionic eye

Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 01:19

Aug. 30 - A blind woman in Australia is given a bionic eye which researchers say could hold the key to improving the lives of millions of people worldwide with impaired vision. Simon Hanna reports.

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Researchers in Australia announce a significant breakthrough in restoring some form of sight to blind patients. And this is how they've done it. Patient Dianne Ashworth - who has severe vision loss due to an inherited condition - has been fitted with an early prototype bionic eye. The artificial retina required surgery to implant electrodes deep into her eye, stimulating cells that then transmit information to her brain. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PATIENT, DIANNE ASHWORTH: "I can remember when the first bigger image came, I just went 'wow', because I just didn't expect it at all but it was amazing." Although Dianee can only see spots of black and white light at the moment, researchers at the Centre for Eye Research say this will improve. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR LAUREN AYTON, CENTRE FOR EYE RESEARCH AUSTRALIA: "With the prototype the idea is to stimulate the retina to give little spots of light, which are called phosphenes, and so, with her implant, Di will be able to see a number of spots in different locations and will be able to see things like shapes and the edges of doorways and objects like that eventually." Researches hope this prototype holds the key to restoring sight to some of the millions of people world-wide who are blind or the estimated 245 million who have poor vision.

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Blind woman given bionic eye

Thursday, August 30, 2012 - 01:19