And in this week's installment of Star Trek Sci-Fi Becoming Sci-Fact we present... Allen Zderad, a 68-year-old Minnesota man who last week saw his wife for the first time in a decade thanks to an innovative device that resembles Geordi La Forge's VISOR from Star Trek: The Next Generation. According to the Mayo Clinic, Zderad lost his vision to the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa. Enter a Mayo Clinic resarcher/opthalmologist, Raymond Iezzi Jr., who was researching the "Second Sight Argus II" retinal prosthesis system when he met Zderad and selected the grandfather of 10 for the so-called "bionic eye" implant.
Iezzi told the television station KARE that he installed 60 electrodes in Zderad's eye. The electrodes interact with a camera in Zderad's glasses—VISOR, anyone?—and a wearable computer pack to convey information to the electrodes implanted in his retina. The signals are then sent straight to Zderad's optic nerve, allowing him to "see" shapes and forms, if not yet the finer details of people's faces.
Still, it's a start—and it was plenty for Zderad, who cried tears of joy along with his family upon seeing his wife. Of the breakthrough device, he said as he shook Iezzi's hand, "It's crude, but it's significant. It'll work."