In Pretty Prairie, Kansas it is fair to say everyone loves Raymond Graber.
He is a chipper and charming gentleman who recently turned 88-years-old. Unlike some folks his age, Raymond loves technology and enjoys learning how to use it.
He is also fiercely independent.
His abilities and personality overshadow the fact that he can’t see anything.
Raymond was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a disease that caused cells in the retina to slowly die. For the first 25 years of his life, he was able to read bold headlines of a newspaper, and then everything went away. Despite the darkness, Raymond says he didn’t change much.
“In other words, if I were to blindfold you, you would still be who you are, you’d still do what you’re doing,” Raymond said.
Raymond worked his entire life and was married for nearly 50 years. His wife passed away three years ago. Raymond now lives in an assisted living center. The activity director at the facility told Raymond about a new procedure that might restore some of his vision.
Doctors at UCHealth Eye Center at the University of Colorado performed the first “bionic eye” procedure at the center last year.
Just two centers in the western United States have implanted the device, so Raymond needed to travel to Colorado to have it done.
Prior to the procedure, Raymond talked about what he was looking forward to seeing again.
“I love Christmas lights,” Raymond said. “I should be able to see the Christmas tree lights. I should be able to see fireworks. I might be able to ride in a car and see the cars go by.”
The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System is a bionic eye that uses a microchip that is implanted on the retina. Patients use glasses with a camera that wirelessly transmits video to the microchip in the eye.
After healing from the procedure, Raymond and his doctors tried on his new glasses. Immediately he was able to see light.
And within minutes he was outside walking and observing. Raymond wiped away a few tears as he took a moment to realize a dream is coming true.
He’s eager to embrace all that he’s been missing visually. “I love Christmas tree lights and that’s what I’m looking forward to. And then I’m also looking for what I don’t know.”
To learn more go to www.uchealth.org.