A British man has become the first person in the world to receive a bionic eye implant for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of vision loss in adults.

Ray Flynn has experienced deteriorating central vision since he developed AMD eight years ago, a condition that affects between 20 million and 25 million people worldwide. His vision problems became so severe, the retired engineer could only see clearly out of the corners of his eyes.

In June, Flynn was given a ground-breaking operation, leaving him with an electrical implant which sends a video feed to the undamaged cells in his retina from a small camera attached to his glasses. The system was turned on for the first time on July 1, and tests showed that he could make out the outline of people and objects even with his eyes closed.

The Argus II implant, manufactured by the US firm Second Sight, has already been successfully used worldwide on more than 130 patients with the rare eye disease retinitis pigmentosa. However those patients, unlike Flynn, had no peripheral vision.

“I can now actually see the face of my brother,” said Flynn, “And watching Manchester United on the television is easier. I have central vision now which I haven’t had for eight years. Your eyes are the most precious thing. My brain is still trying to catch up and work out what is going on, but I have been told it will continue to get better.”

Four more patients with dry AMD will undergo the $234,000 procedure at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital as part of a clinical trial. Consultant ophthalmologist and vitreo-retinal surgeon, Professor Paulo Stanga, hailed the operation as a success, he said: "Mr Flynn's progress is truly remarkable. He is seeing the outline of people and objects very effectively.”

For more on the use of the Argus II System on dry AMD sufferers, see the video below.

Image credit: Second Sight