(PIX11) — A 66-year-old North Carolina man who became the seventh person in the United States to receive a ‘bionic eye’ can now see for the first time in 33 years, according to the Duke Medicine website.
In his early 30s, Larry Hester was diagnosed with retinas pigmentosa, a degenerative disease that caused him to lose his sight. In September, doctors began the process of inserting the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis Device, a wireless technology that connects a sensor that is implanted in the eye to light signals sent from a camera mounted on his eyeglasses.
Hester was able to see for the first time on Oct. 1.
Seen in a YouTube video posted by Duke Medicine, when Hester’s device is activated, doctors and his teary-eye wife ask if he can see.
“Yes,” he says repeatedly as he smiled. “It was incredible. It was bright, and it was significant. I just had to take a deep breath,” he later added.
Doctors warned Hester that the device would not restore normal eyesight but would provide light-and-dark differentiation that could help him distinguish a door from a wall, a painted cross walk or his wife’s face.
That was good enough for the Hesters.
His wife, Jerry, said she cherished the moment when she was watching a football game, and the contrast of the dark room and her light skin was enough for her husband to see flashes. He was able to reach out and touched her face, KTLA reported.
“It was just a beautiful touch,” she said.
Hester plans to return to the Duke Eye Center regularly for training and is eager to provide researchers with information they could use to enhance the technology, the Duke website said.
“I just wonder how I have been so lucky,” Hester stated on the website.
The YouTube video has been viewed almost 900,000 times. Watch the emotional video below.