WATCH: Man implanted with bionic eye sees his wife for the first time in a decade

Posted at 2:17 PM, Feb 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-20 14:17:46-05

A blind Minnesota man can now see his wife for the first time in a decade after receiving a bionic eye implant.

Allen Zderad, 68, has a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, which has stolen his sight over the course of his life.

Zderad’s vision problems became serious about 20 years ago. The problems ended his professional career at the 3M corporation and he was blind after a decade.

Dr. Raymond Iezzi Jr., a researcher and ophthalmologist from the Mayo Clinic who had been seeing Zderad’s grandson, who has early stages of the same condition, asked to see him.

It turns out, Zderad was a perfect candidate for a clinical trial of a bionic eye implant.

The implant sends light wave signals to the optic nerve, bypassing the damaged retina.

A chip was embedded his right eye and wires were attached during a surgical procedure in January.

Then, in early February, the rest of the prosthetic device set in glasses was activated.

Zderad was overcome with emotion as he was able to make out outlines and human forms for the first time in 10 years.

“It’s crude, but it’s significant!” he said. “It’ll work!”

With the device, he’s not able to see details in faces or images, but he can navigate without the use of his cane.

Zderad is the first in Minnesota to receive the device, and only the 15th in the United States.