A video released by the Mayo Clinic shows the heartwarming moment when Allen Zderad, 68, recognizes that his wife Carmen is in front of him. Delight spreads across his face as he reaches out his hands to meet hers, and they both burst into tears.
Zderad was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease around 20 years ago, which gradually chipped away at his eyesight until leaving him completely blind 10 years ago.
Surgeons at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, have embedded a tiny electronic chip in his right eye. The Second Sight implant receives light-wave signals from a small camera fitted in the bridge of the custom-made sunglasses via a small video video-processing unit, bypassing his damaged retina. According to a press release, Zderad is the 15th person in the U.S. to receive the implant and the very first in Minnesota.
Once he puts on the sunglasses, he explains what he is seeing: “It’s a pulsing light.
It’s not like regular vision where it’s, like, constant. It’s a flash, and I’ve got to be able to interpret the changes in that shape.”
Though he cannot see finer details, such as people’s faces, his quality of life has already improved dramatically. He will be able to navigate through spaces full of people without the use of his cane and eventually recognize the shapes of certain objects, like a fork and knife, for example.
“It’s crude but it’s significant,” said Zderad. “It’ll work!”
What’s most important is that he can make out the forms of his wife, four children, 10 grandchildren — some for the first time — and even his own reflection.
Though his newfound vision is far from perfect, as he must decipher and interpret the shapes he sees, he was able to recognize his wife immediately. “It’s easy,” he explained, “as she’s the most beautiful one in the room.”