February 23, 2015 2:56 pm
Updated: February 23, 2015 3:00 pm

WATCH: Blind man sees wife for first time in over a decade with bionic eye

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WATCH ABOVE: A man is outfitted with a bionic eye and able to see his wife for the first time in more than a decade. 

TORONTO – A blind Minnesota man rejoiced after a retinal implant recently allowed him to see his wife for the first time in over a decade.

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Allen Zderad, a 68-year-old native of Forest Lake, suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disease that often causes blindness, and hasn’t been able to see his wife or grandchildren in over ten years. In fact, he has never even seen some of those grandkids.

“Ten years, but I still kiss her with my eyes closed,” the retired chemist said, laughing in a NBC report.

Allen’s wife, Carmen, has been his eyes since he lost his vision. But she’ll get a slight break now that her husband has visited the Mayo Clinic to undergo the ground-breaking procedure.

“His whole life we have heard – nothing can be done, nothing can be done, it’s all we’ve heard, until now,” Carmen Zderad told ABC.

WATCH ABOVE: A video released on YouTube by the Mayo Clinic shows the moment Allen Zderad saw his wife for the first time in over 10 years with the help of the Second Sight retinal prosthesis.

Health officials installed the Second Sight Argus II retinal prosthesis system. It’s basically a pair of glasses with a mounted camera that captures an image, sends it to a small computer, which in turn sends a processed translation back to the glasses to transfer wireless instructions to a retinal implant. The implant itself contains 60 electrodes.

“The retinal prosthesis implant has taken over 25 years to develop. Hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of people to bring this forward to this point,” said Dr. Raymond Iezzi, a Mayo Clinic retinal surgeon and clinical ophthalmologist.

Allen Zderad suffers from retinitis pigmentosa and can only see by wearing a pair of custom-made Oakley sunglasses attached to an implant in his retina.

KARE / NBC

In an emotional video posted on YouTube, Zderad showed excitement and jubilation as the image of his wife slowly came into view for the first time. There wasn’t enough tissue in the room to soak up all the tears from family and friends.

“It’s one of the most rewarding moments in my career, to see him respond the way he did,” Iezzi told the Post Bulletin. “This is a gift I think many physicians aspire to.”

What Zderad can now see are pixelated images in black and white. It’s not exactly 20-20 vision, or as advanced as the gear Star Trek‘s Geordi La Forge wore, but it’s something.

“It’s crude, but it’s significant. It works,” Zderad said, smiling with tears running down his cheeks.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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