Treatment coordinated by Oxford University has led to the first implantation of an electronic retina in a patient in the UK.

The surgical team, led by the Professor Robert MacLaren, Professor of Ophthalmology at Oxford University, inserted retinal implants in the backs of the eyes of two men.

The technology consists of a small microchip containing 1,500 tiny light-detectors, implanted below the retina, and a power source implanted behind the ear. The light-detectors, when powered, transmit a signal to the optic nerve, allowing restoration of some sight.

Professor MacLaren said there was some uncertainty about how much sight would be recovered, but that under “best conditions” patients might be able to see the top letter on an eye chart.

Dr Dolores Conroy, Director of Research at Fight for Sight, commented, “The news from this pioneering trial that some useful vision can be regained will be extremely welcome to those who are living with sight loss.”