World’s first bionic eye implant has been performed by Manchester surgeons in a patient with dry age-related macular degeneration.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world.
The patient, 80-year-old Ray Flynn, has dry age-related macular degeneration which has led to the total loss of his central vision.
Ray Flynn is using a retinal implant which converts video images from a miniature video camera worn on his glasses.
He can now make out the direction of white lines on a computer screen using the retinal implant.
Ray Flynn said he was “delighted” with the implant and hoped in time it would improve his vision sufficiently to help him with day-to-day tasks like gardening and shopping.
The Argus II implant, manufactured by the US-based company Second Sight, has previously been used to restore some vision to patients who are blind as a result of a rare condition known as retinitis pigmentosa.
The operation, at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, is the first time it has been implanted in a patient with age-related macular degeneration.
Ray Flynn said he had to sit very close to the TV to see anything.
He had given up going to see Manchester United play football as he cannot make out what is happening.
The operation took four hours and was led by Paulo Stanga, consultant ophthalmologist and vitreo-retinal surgeon at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and professor of ophthalmology and retinal regeneration at the University of Manchester.
Prof. Paulo Stanga said: “Mr. Flynn’s progress is truly remarkable, he is seeing the outline of people and objects very effectively.
“I think this could be the beginning of a new era for patients with sight loss.”
The bionic eye implant receives its visual information from a miniature camera mounted on glasses worn by the patient.
The images are converted into electrical pulses and transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes attached to the retina.
The electrodes stimulate the remaining retina’s remaining cells which send the information to the brain.
In a test, two weeks after surgery, Ray Flynn was able to detect the pattern of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines on a computer screen using the implant.
Ray Flynn kept his eyes closed during the test so that the medical team could be sure that the visual information was coming via the camera on his glasses and the implant.
He said: “It was wonderful to be able to see the bars on the screen with my eyes closed.”
The implant cannot provide any highly detailed vision – but previous studies have shown it can help patients to detect distinct patterns such as door frames and shapes.
Prof. Paulo Stanga said that in time, Ray Flynn should learn how to interpret the images from the implant more effectively.
Four more patients with dry AMD will receive the implant at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, as part of a clinical trial.
Prof. Paulo Stanga said: “We hope these patients will develop some central visual function which they can work in alongside and complement their peripheral vision.
“We are very excited by this trial and hope that this technology might help people, including children with other forms of sight loss.”
The Argus II costs about $240,000, including treatment costs, although all the patients on the trial will be treated free of charge.
Gregoire Cosendai of Second Sight Medical Products, described the AMD study as “totally groundbreaking research”.
AMD is launching its new Trinity processor family boasting “twice the performance per watt” of its earlier Llano chips.
Like Intel’s rival Ivy Bridge release, the update includes up to four CPU (central processing unit) cores and a single GPU (graphics processing unit).
AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) claims its product offers gamers a superior experience.
The first computers using the chips go on sale in June, with the US launch of a Hewlett Packard “Sleekbook”.
AMD’s focus on low power requirements reflects manufacturers’ desire to offer thinner laptops and slimmer all-in-one desktop models.
Trinity can be set to run off as low as 17 watts, half the minimum amount possible using Llano.
The move should also allow traditional-sized laptops to run off their batteries for longer. The firm says systems could last up to 12 hours, although the figure cannot be verified until models utilizing the chips are released.
AMD is launching its new Trinity processor family boasting "twice the performance per watt" of its earlier Llano chips
While Intel has shifted to a new manufacturing process – radically changing the design of its transistors – to make gains, AMD has opted for an alternative innovation.
The “Piledriver” architecture of its CPU cores introduces an energy-saving technique called “resonant clock mesh technology” which allows it to “recycle” some of the energy consumed as it carries out calculations.
“Over the past decade, several test chips successfully demonstrated a variety of resonant clocking implementations,” said AMD’s chief technology officer Steve Scott.
“None however, has achieved integration into a commercial processor due to various practicality or cost issues. AMD has managed to overcome these challenges.
“[It] results in a reduction in total core power consumption of up to 10%.”
Further power savings will be achieved by running more processes on the chipset’s GPU which is the same “Northern Islands” design used in its standalone Radeon graphics cards.
AMD claims that the component and the accompanying software drivers are superior to the equivalent products from Intel.
Third-party software including Photoshop, the media-player VLC, Adobe’s Flash plug-in and many of the leading web browsers have undergone recent updates to take advantage of GPU’s skill at handling “parallisable” tasks – processes that are split into different parts and then run simultaneously.
This ability is also particularly suited for handling computer graphics, and AMD is keen to promote Trinity’s ability to handle high definition games on systems not fitted with discrete graphics cards.
“Thirty frames per second is the industry standard for smooth gaming,” said Sasa Markinkovic, AMD’s head of desktop and software product marketing.
“What we are able to do with Trinity is offer HD, 1080p resolution, gaming and deliver 30 frames per second.
“When you look at Ivy Bridge it is a step forward for Intel in terms of graphics performance, but it’s still not good enough for HD gaming – and that makes the difference between playable and not playable.”
Computers using Trinity will also offer AMD’s “Steady Video” feature which automatically stabilizes playback of shaky videos posted to sites such as YouTube; and “Quick Stream”, a setting which ensures PCs prioritize streaming video when downloading several files from the internet at once.
Despite its advantages, one analyst said AMD might still find itself at a disadvantage against its long-term rival.
“Trinity is a compelling product from a graphics performance and power consumption perspective,” said Sergis Mushell, processor expert at the tech analysis firm Gartner.
“But Intel’s advantage is that it has a bigger ecosystem – there will be 10 to 15 times the number of systems using its chips than AMD’s.
“This gives it better economies of scale and the ability to offer its chips at more price points, ultimately putting it in a strong position to challenge Trinity.”
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