The ability to see is frequently taken for granted. We expect to wake up every day with the entire spectrum of light in our eyes. For one blind man from Medford, Massachusetts, the light which has escaped him for twenty years is finally back in his life.
Anthony Andreotolla is blind. He suffers from a disease call retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease of the retina. As a teen, he started noticing blurred vision, which became total blindness by his 30s. He told CBS Boston, “Once everything is black, for many, many years, that was it.”
Thanks to Second Sight and the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, doctors have lifted the veil of darkness in Andreotolla’s life. He is the recipient of a bionic eye implant which helps him gain back some vision. At this point, he will not see as more people do, but can more easily navigate his daily life.
For his daily six-mile commute into Boston, Andreotolla puts on custom fit glasses. The glasses contain a tiny camera which sends images to a wearable computer. Once the computer processes the images, they are then sent wirelessly to the implant in his eye.
He explains that his new vision is not precisely like seeing the way other do. “I see everything in different flashes, lights, and shapes…I can tell the difference between a car or a bus or a truck. I can’t tell you what make the car is.”
Fortunately, he can now make it to his job as a substance abuse counselor at St. Anthony Shrine safely and with fuller senses. Andreotolla said, “I have my hope back. Once I lost my sight, I was resigned to be blind for the rest of my life. I’m not resigned to that anymore. I believe if I can live long enough, I’ll be able to see a lot of beautiful things.”
Second Sight is currently working on an updated version of their bionic eye with sharper images and faster processing.