bionic eye transplant first ray flynn
Ray Flynn successfully trialled the bionic eye at the Manchester Royal Eye HospitalNHS

A UK pensioner has become the world's first partially sighted person to have their central vision restored using a bionic eye.

Ray Flynn, 80, from Manchester, was fitted with an Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, having suffered from advanced dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) for the past decade.

"Before when I was looking at a plant in the garden it was like a honeycomb in the centre of my eye," Flynn said. "That has now disappeared. I can now walk around the garden and see things."

"It's definitely improved my vision, but I haven't been out and about on a bus yet. I don't think I will for a little while."

The bionic implant converts video images from an inbuilt camera into electric pulses that are transmitted to electrodes on the surface of Flynn's retina.

AMD has meant that Flynn has had to rely on his peripheral vision, but the bionic device has allowed him to see the outline of people and objects using his central vision.

"Ray had to do everything with his peripheral vision, it's very tiring, it is exhausting," said professor Paulo Stanga, a consultant ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon who was involved in the trial.

"What we are hoping to achieve is to improve Ray's central vision so he does not have to work so hard with his peripheral vision. This is new information that Ray's brain is receiving and his brain now needs to get used to interpreting it. He has not given up on losing his central vision. He is a motivated patient and that is crucial."

The device means that Flynn will once again be able to watch his beloved Manchester United at Old Trafford, as well as take up cooking once again.

"We don't miss a game on the television, but he can't make out the players on the pitch and he can only watch if he sits in a certain position and looks from the corner of his eye," said his brother Pete Flynn.

"It gets very tiring for him so watching the first game of the season should be a new experience. He is also into his cooking and is a fan of Delia Smith. He does a lot of it by instinct, but using a magnifying glass to follow a recipe takes him a long time and he tries very hard with that."