David is 83 – but he’s set to become one of first five in world to have bionic eye surgery

David Williams, who is partially sighted, is set to have a bionic eye operation, and become one of o

David Williams, who is partially sighted, is set to have a bionic eye operation, and become one of only five men in the world to take part in the trial - Credit: Archant

An 83-year-old man from Baldock is set to be one of only five men in the world to undergo an operation for a bionic eye implant.

David Williams – who has dry age-related macular degeneration – will travel to Manchester Royal Eye Hospital later this month ready for surgery which could see a vast improvement in his central vision.

The condition affects more than 500,000 people in the UK and, although it is not painful, central vision is impaired which results in people being unable to read, drive or recognise faces easily.

In July Ray Flynn was the first to receive the four-hour operation, and the 80-year-old can now see white lines on a computer screen thanks to retinal implants which convert video images from a miniscule video camera worn on his glasses.

Mr Williams and three others will make up a ‘famous five’ taking part in the clinical trials which will cost hundreds of thousand of pounds, but could go towards helping to alleviate the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world.

David, who is a published author, said: “My operation has been moved forward from November, but I feel great and I want to get it over and done with.

“I found out about the trials only six weeks ago when I was watching television in the morning and heard about Ray’s operation.

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“I called up and, after a few tests and several meetings, I was on the list to be one of the ‘famous five’ as they call us.

“I have a crime novel and a book on the general strike of 1926 in Wales that are works in progress, but with my central vision improved I think it would make the process a lot easier.

“I would also be able to play bridge again, and I used to love going to the theatre and the cinema.

“It could open up my life to a wide variety of things.”

The operation will be led by Professor Paulo Stanga, who is consultant ophthalmologist and vitreo-retinal surgeon at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.

Professor 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.”