A 68-year-old Minnesota man was able to see his wife for the first time in a decade last week after becoming the fifteenth person in the country to receive a "bionic eye" implant.
Allen Zderad's career as a chemist ended 20 years ago when his sight began to fail as a result of a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, according to a statement from the Mayo Clinic.
Raymond Iezzi Jr., a Mayo Clinic researcher and ophthalmologist, was researching the "Second Sight Argus II" retinal prosthesis system when he encountered Zderad and decided the grandfather of ten would be a good candidate for an implant. Iezzi installed 60 electrodes in Zderad's eye, which interact with a camera in Zderad's glasses and a wearable computer pack to send information to the electrodes implanted in his retina, which then sends signals straight to the optic nerve, Iezzi explained to NBC affiliate KARE.
"This is great for this family. It's also very unusual for a scientist like me to be able to actually apply outcomes of what we've worked on for years to help a patient. That's very special," Iezzi said, according to a statement from the Mayo Clinic.
Zderad still can't see the details of people's faces, but he can make out forms and shapes.
And that's more than enough for him to find his wife, Carmen. "It's easy," Zderad told the Mayo Clinic. "She's the most beautiful one in the room."
— Elisha Fieldstadt