Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The retinal implant at the back of the eye. Source: OU
The retinal implant at the back of the eye. Source: OU

Professor Robert MacLaren, Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology, has performed the first retinal implant in the UK, performing the eight hour surgery at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. The patient, Chris James, had been left completely blind from retinitis pigmentosa, a disease in which retinal cells deteriorate over time. The retinal implants contain 1500 electronic light detectors which act as substitutes for the lost retinal cells. The implant’s electrodes are connected to overlying nerves which relay signals to the optic nerve, with the patient experiencing a pixelated image. A power supply for the device is inserted behind the ear.

Once the implant was switched on, the patient was able to immediately detect light. After some time adjusting to the device, he is now able to recognise basic shape outlines. The device is still in the trial phase, with up to 12 UK patients being included. The manufacturers, Retina Implant of Germany, hope for commercial approval following the trial.

Prof MacLaren said ‘we are all delighted with these initial results. The vision is different to normal ... and it requires a different type of brain processing. We hope, however, that the electronic chips will provide independence for many people who are blind from retinitis pigmentosa.’

Similar stories

Study reveals association between diagnosis of a neuropsychiatric condition and severe outcome from COVID-19 infection, and other severe acute respiratory infections

New research from the University of Oxford has shown an increased risk of severe illness and death from both COVID-19 and other severe respiratory infections, such as influenza and pneumonia, among people with a pre-existing mental health condition.

New study shows clinical symptoms for Alzheimer’s can be predicted in preclinical models

Establishing preclinical models of Alzheimer’s that reflect in-life clinical symptoms of each individual is a critically important goal, yet so far it has not been fully realised. A new collaborative study from the University of Oxford has demonstrated that clinical vulnerability to an abnormally abundant protein in Alzheimer’s brain is in fact reflected in individual patient induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cortical neurons.

Visit from the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust

Earlier this month, we were delighted to welcome the Director of the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust, Richard Benson, and its Chair of Trustees, Liz Charal.

Oxford receives £122m funding for healthcare research

Health and care research in Oxford is to receive £122 million in government funding over the next five years to improve diagnosis, treatment and care for NHS patients. Our department will play a major role.