Blindness cure breakthrough? Dad, 35, who suddenly lost sight has vision restored

Ben Spencer, 35, was overwhelmed with joy when he set eyes on his wife and three children for the first time after he started wearing the Orion Visual Cortical Prosthesis System. 

The mind-blowing device was given to five men and one woman in the hope it could help them see again. 

Using electrode chips planted at the back of their skulls, images picked up around them were beamed directly to the brain. 

Ben described how the device let him see his wife Jeanette, 42, and his daughters Melissa, 13, Jane, 10, and Abigail, 15. 

Speaking to MailOnline, Mr Spencer said: “It is awe inspiring to see so much beauty. I could see the roundness of my wife’s face, the shape of her body. 

“I could see my kids running up to give me a hug. It is not perfect vision – it is like grainy 1980s surveillance video footage. It may not be full vision yet, but it’s something.”

He continued: “I can see silhouettes, I can see light and shade, I can guess at colours. I can go to the store, I can walk without my cane. 

“I can sort my dark laundry from my whites, I can see a crack in the sidewalk coming up. I could see a sign sticking out – but I couldn’t read what it said.” 

Mr Spencer, from near Houston, Texas, endured a gruelling two-hour surgery where a “window” was cut into his skull where an electrode array was placed on the surface of his brain. 

The surgery has since given him a chance to see for the first time since 1992 when his vision suddenly disappeared as he left a class at school. 

“I could see my kids running up to give me a hug”

Ben Spencer

Other patients who took part in the life-changing experiment had lost their sight due to trauma, infections, glaucoma and nerve problems. 

But, experts are unsure whether the device could help people born blind – as their visual cortex would have never learnt to process images. 

Alex Shortt, a University College London lecturer and eye surgeon, told the publication: “This, to my mind, is a massive breakthrough, an amazing advance and it is very exciting. 

“Previously all attempts to create a ‘bionic eye’ focused on implanting into the eye itself. It required you to have a working eye, a working optic nerve.”

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