As It Happens

Man sees wife for first time in 10 years with bionic eye

A Minnesota man breaks down in tears at the sight of his wife after Mayo Clinic procedure.
(Courtesy: Mayo Clinic)

Ten years ago, Allen Zderad's degenerative eye disease took a dramatic turn for the worse. And that was the last time the 68-year-old Minnesota man could see his wife Carmen. Until this week.

Thanks to new technology and a sophisticated procedure at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, Allen Zderad was able to see with a "bionic eye."   

"It was really exciting," he tells As it Happens  host Carol Off. Even though the bionic vision is rudimentary compared with regular eyesight, Zderad said he knew right away that it was his wife because she was the most beautiful person in the room. 

"I could see a shape of a shoulder and a head. ... I could tell that it was a human form rather than a chair, or a pole, or something like that." 

Carmen Zderad says she's seeing the improvement in his artificial vision every day. "It's just fun to watch him have more confidence in a lot of daily things....just daily living. It's just been really fun."

"It's something we had not anticipated because over the years we have just been told 'there's nothing that can be done, there's nothing that can be done,' and all of a sudden here this is."