Blind paralympian can see again after groundbreaking operation
A BLIND Paralympian has been fitted with a ground-breaking eye implant that is restoring his sight.
Gold medalist Tim Reddish had a ten-hour operation as part of a clinical trial to be fitted with a microelectronic chip on his retina.
He can now see light and shapes.
The 55-year-old, who won more than 50 medals for his country, likened the moment his electronic chip was turned on to "a match being lit up in the dark".
"It's unbelievable," he said. "The chip is changing my life."
The sporting star, who is chairman of the British Paralympic Association, which organised the 2012 Games, was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease at the age of 31.
Seven years later, he lost his sight and had to rely on a guide dog and a white cane.
But leading German scientists who have been researching retinal chip technology since 1996 have given him hope.
Mr Reddish said that since having the operation, he had even been able to read the time on a clock and could see light from lamp-posts.
He can also make out the outline of his computer and door frames.
"I definitely couldn't have done that before, and I can only see in one dimension," said Mr Reddish, of Nuthall Gardens, Bobbers Mill.
Surgeons at John Radcliffe Hospital, in Oxford, removed part of his skull and placed the chip on his retina. It is connected via a wire thinner than a human hair to an electrical unit just behind his ear.
When light enters the eye and reaches the chip, it sends electronic signals to the optic nerve and from there to the brain.
The technology behind the eye implant, which is made by a company called Retina Implant AG, was showcased on Channel 4's documentary How to Build a Bionic Man, which aired earlier this month.