For the first time in the history of ophthalmology, a British pensioner -- who was only able to see partially – has received a bionic eye implant. A common condition called age-related macular degeneration (AMD) had caused partial blindness in the 80-year-old man.

Ray Flynn underwent the implant surgery in early June at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. However, the implant was activated on July 1. The first tests of the implant were conducted only recently at the hospital and Flynn was able to clearly see the outlines of objects and people for the first time after developing AMD.

The  implant, called the Argus II bionic eye, operated with the help of a small camera. The miniature camera is attached to the glasses that the patient has to wear to see things clearly. The camera captures the image of the things around and sends the video impression to the retinal implant fitted inside the bionic eye.

The retinal implant then transmits the video to the undamaged cells of the patient's original retina. The brain interprets the impression from the human retina and helps convert it into vision.

The groundbreaking surgery – which lasted for four hours -- was performed by Professor Paulo Stanga, a lecturer at the University of Manchester. Stanga said Flynn's progress in seeing things clearly is quite remarkable.

AMD is the most common cause that produces blindness in a majority of people over the age of 50. In this condition, the central vision of the affected individual is impaired. It is estimated that nearly 500,000 people in Britain alone suffer from AMD.