South Florida woman first to receive bionic eye in Florida

Carmen Torres diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at 18 years old

MIAMI – Growing up, Carmen Torres didn't think much about her vision until the age of 18, when she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a condition in which vision gradually declines over time.

At the age of 45, Torres couldn't see herself in the mirror anymore.

"I adapt well to my incapacity because you don't have another choice. You have to move forward with your life," Torres said.

After 16 years of being blind, there was finally some hope for Torres. A team of doctors at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute discovered a possible solution -- a bionic eye.

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Doctors explain the eye as an implant. The patient wears special glasses with a miniature video camera that captures what is being seen.  The image is processed by a small computer attached to a belt or purse, and the signal is sent back to the glasses, which them transmits the images to the implant.

"So it's a meticulous technique," Dr. Nina Gregori said. "(You need) exact, precise measurements of where to place these components on the eye and we really took our time."

The procedure is the first of its kind in Florida and Torres is the first patient to receive the bionic eye.

Torres said she is now able to locate doors and windows, see sidewalks and buildings and watch the stars outside her home. Torres said the procedure has truly been life-changing.

"It's very emotional. But I am very strong and I didn't cry," Torres said. "I was happy and just laughing like crazy."

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