TODAY   |  April 26, 2014

Blind man’s vision restored by miraculous ‘bionic eye’

An incurable genetic eye disease left Roger Pontz without sight for nearly 15 years, but cutting-edge technology and doctors at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center have given him his vision back. NBC’s John Yang reports.

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>>> with something of a medical marvel that feels like it's straight out of the future. a man who has been blind for nearly two decades actually starting to see again thanks to his new bionic eye . john yang has the story.

>> reporter: for nearly 15 years, roger ponce lived in a world of darkness, robbed of his sight by an incurable genetic eye disease .

>> it's scary and frustrating. myself, i just learned different ways to cope with it.

>> reporter: now thanks to cutting edge technology, he's getting some of his vision back. he can see outlines and shapes, making out his cat and, most important, his grandchildren.

>> every day, he sees something new and something new happens. so, every day, we just don't know.

>> it might be something small but something every day something new is happening.

>> he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa . sufferers gradually lose their sight. first side vision and night vergs vision and then central vision. cases that can cause near blindness. he is only the fourth person to get a high-tech implant that seems straight out of the 1970s tv series "the 6 million dollar man."

>> gentlemen, we can rebuild him. we have the technology.

>> patients wear glasses equipped with a small video camera to capture visual images. those images are converted into electrical pulses which stimulate the remaining healthy cells on the retina, which send a signal through the optic nerve to the brain allowing the patient to see the image.

>> they detect edges of objects, of people. and from that, they can figure out what it is that's in front of them.

>> reporter: roger and terri say it's nothing but a miracle.

>> what do you say to people who are giving your husband back his vision? how do you thank them for that?

>> reporter: giving him back what he thought he lost forever.

>> little by little . i'm mighty happy.

>> reporter: for "today," john yang , nbc news, chicago.