First Belgian with a bionic eye


A team of specialists from the Ghent University Hospital has succeeded in restoring the eyesight of a 72-year-old woman with a bionic eye. Treatment at such an advanced stage of the disease is a first in Belgium. In other countries, 250 patients already have been fitted with a bionic eye.

The female patient suffers from the hereditary disease Retinitis pigmentosa (RP), which occurs in one in every 3,000 Belgians. Over time, the patient's eyesight gradually deteriorates, resulting in blindness.

Until recently, the disease could not be treated at such an advanced stage. The Belgian patient received a retinal implant thanks to medical developments. The implant is connected with a hand-held computer and eyeglasses with a built-in miniature camera. The computer converts these images into signals, which are sent to the brain via the retinal implant. The brain then converts these signals into images again. The woman can distinguish window and door openings and the outline of people. 

Around the world, 250 patients have received this implant to date. Currently the bionic eye only allows patients who were not born blind to see again. It is vital, in other words, that the patient can link images to images they have seen in the past. This intervention is a revolutionary first step in the right direction in Belgian medicine.