Minnesota Man Implanted with Bionic Eye Sees His Wife for the First Time in 10 Years (VIDEO)
02/22/2015 AT 02:45 PM EST
The heartwarming moment was caught on video, as Allen Zderad, 68, excitedly talked himself through what he was seeing.
"It's a pulsing light," he said. "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."
Zderad had his wife, Carmen, walk past his line of vision and he could not have been more excited to perceive the motion, shaking the doctor's hand and hugging his wife. Everyone in the room was totally overcome with emotion.
"It's crude but it's significant," said Zderad. "It'll work!"
Zderad's genetic degenerative eye disease, called retinitis pigmentosa, became serious about 20 years ago, reports KARE 11 in Minneapolis. The condition "progressively deteriorates the part of the retina that turns light into vision," ultimately rendering the carrier totally blind.
The device – called the "Second Sight Argus II" retinal prosthesis system – was implanted in him by Dr. Raymond Iezzi of the Mayo Clinic, says KARE 11. The device works by interacting with the eye; a camera in Zderad's glasses sends information to the 60 electrodes that were implanted by Dr. Iezzi.
As you can see in the video, what Zderad sees is a series of black-and-white pixels moving across a board.
The implant is not just practical; it represents hope for Zderad and his family. His grandson, Caleb, 13, has inherited retinas pigmentosa.
Meanwhile, Zderad will continue to test the implant for Dr. Iezzi as he and his team look for future uses for the device, such as to help those with glaucoma or soldiers who have lost their eyes in combat.
"I'm glad I have the energy and stamina to put in the time and effort," said Zderad. "I'm really excited. God has given me the strength at 68 years of age to still keep going, this is great."