British woman gets bionic eye


Rhian Lewis, a British woman aged 49, is the first Briton to get a bionic eye. A chip was implanted in the back of the retina, which allowed her to see for the first time in six years.

The woman started losing her eyesight when she was 5 years old.  Now she can read the time of a clock, experience sunshine and even recognize her two 18-year old twins , which she hadn't clearly seen for a few years.

The bionic eye works by gathering light and sending it to the brain, where it is turned into images.The chip has 15,000 light sensors that replace the cells in the retina. It is connected to a tiny computer that sits in the back of her ear. The revolutionary invention was manufactured by a Germany firm. Lewis is the first person outside of Germany to receive the chip.

The disease which was passed down to Lewis from her parents destroys the light cells in the retina. She became completely blind on one eye and could hardly see anything with her other eye. In her first interview after the successful operation she described  the joy of being able to see again.

What Lewis first saw first were simply flashes of light. In the course of a few weeks, the brain learns  to change those flashes into objects and shapes she can recognize. She can change contrast and brightness  with a small gadget that she holds in her hand.



The operation, performed in an Oxford hospital, took about 6 hours. Surgeons are also amazed because for the first time they have been able to activate  a part of the brain that hasn't been working for some time.

The bionic eye is hope for thousands of people who suffer from losing their eyesight, especially when they become older.



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  • activate = to make something work
  • amazed = very surprised
  • bionic = part of the body that is electronic
  • brain = part of your head that controls what you do, think and how you feel
  • brightness = being full of light or shining strongly
  • Briton = person who is a citizen of Great Britain
  • cell = the smallest building block of a person or animal
  • clearly = in every detail
  • completely = totally
  • connect = link
  • contrast = differences in light and dark
  • destroy = damage completely
  • disease = illness
  • especially = above all
  • experience =  here: the feeling of being able to see
  • eyesight = being able to see
  • flash = light that shines brightly for a very short time
  • gadget = small tool that does something useful
  • gather = collect
  • hardly = almost nothing
  • image = picture
  • implant = put something into your body in an operation
  • invention = new machine or object
  • joy = feeling of great happiness
  • manufacture = produce
  • pass down = get from your parents or grandparents
  • perform = carry out
  • replace = put there instead of something else
  • receive = here: to have the chip implanted
  • recognize = to know what somebody or something is
  • retina = the back of the eye that collects light and sends signals to the brain
  • revolutionary = something very new and modern
  • sensor = object that reacts to light or heat
  • shape = form
  • simply =easy to understand
  • successful = here: something that worked
  • suffer = to have a disease, feel pain or not have something that other people have
  • surgeon = doctor who carries out operations
  • tiny = very small