A 68-year-old blind husband from Forest Lake, Minnesota, has seen his wife for the first time in 10 years, after undergoing a special bionic eye operation for a genetic eye disease known as retinitis pigmentosa.
Allen Zderad was overcome with joy when his wife, Carmen, came into focus and he saw her for the first time in a decade, kissing and hugging her through tears of laughter and excitement.
Thanks to a pair of electronic glasses, which send signals to the electrodes planted in Zderad’s damaged retinas, he can finally see his wife and 10 grandchildren again.
The device — which took over $400,000 to develop over 20 years — is, according to Zderad, “crude but significant, it works.”
Zderad is the first person in Minnesota, and only the 15th in America, to receive the bionic eye, which was given to him to alleviate the genetic disorder which has progressively worn away his retina.
Talking about what it was like to be able to see again, Zderad said, “I have a lot of fun with my grandkids and family. I think it would be good to recognize when they come in the room, and observe their growing and things like that. My grandkids in Oregon love playing hide and seek. They don’t have to hide anywhere except for a corner of a room.”
Specialist surgeon Dr. Raymond Iezzi, who selected Mr Zderad to receive the bionic eye, told reporters, “It’s a bionic eye, in every sense of the word. It’s not a replacement for the eyeball, but it works with interacting with the eye,” adding that, “Mankind has been seeking to cure blindness for 2,000 years or more, but only in the past quarter of a century have we had the electronics and the packaging and all the other things come together to build a retinal prosthesis that could restore sight to the blind.”