Heroes

They're in tears before his bionic eye is even turned on. His final reaction is priceless.

Allen Zderad has been legally blind his entire life. But his new bionic eye is giving him the gift of sight. Note: This video contains graphic footage of eye surgery from 2:09 to 2:17. If that sort of thing makes you squeamish, feel free to skip ahead.

<span class="redactor-invisible-space"></span>

It's been over 10 years since Allen Zderadi has seen his grandchildren and his wife Carmen.

Allen has Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition that causes total blindness when the part of the retina that turns light into vision deteriorates.


But Allen received some good news: He would be the first person to experience a bionic eye technique that had been researched for 20 years.

And it worked.

Thanks to a successful procedure, Allen was able to see his wife for the very first time. Cue all of the feels.

That's the emotional part. But the let's-geek-out, science part of the story is just as amazing.

Here's how a bionic eye works.

Retinal prosthesis, aka "a bionic eye," is an implant that can restore limited vision for people like Allen who suffer from degenerative eye conditions. While the idea of a bionic eye might have you thinking of "The Terminator," it's not an eye replacement.


All images via Hipster.

Doctors start by implanting tiny microchips into the patient's eyes.

In a healthy eye, the photoreceptors take in light and send a kind of nerve-ending Morse code back to the brain explaining what it has seen. Most people suffering from degenerative eye conditions have severely damaged photoreceptors, which causes them to lose their sight. So these microchips work almost like electronic photoreceptors.

The patient then wears special glasses equipped with a digital camera that captures what's in front of them.

That image then goes to a video microchip, to a radio transmitter behind the patient's ear, and then to the microchips in the patient's eye.

Imagine a science version of the game "Telephone" but way more complicated.

The real magic is how the digital camera explains to the eye what it's seeing. In some ways, it's kind of like a game of telephone, except the message doesn't get distorted. The video camera inside Allen's glasses takes the image it's capturing and sends it to the radio transmitter as a series of Morse-code-like pulses that signal light and dark. The radio transmitter then sends the light-and-dark combination to Allen's eye, which the brain is able to piece back together.

And viola! Although the picture is pixelated, Allen recognized his wife almost instantly.

Of course bionic eyes are pretty cool, but just imagine where this technology will be in the next five to 10 years.

That future is especially exciting for Allen and his family because his young grandson shares the same degenerative eye condition. And even though his grandson may end up using the very same bionic technology later in life, Allen's hope for him is one we can all stand to learn from:

"He can succeed, and that he's defined not by his limitations but by his abilities that God has given him, so I hope he appreciates that."

Former President George W. Bush and current president Donald Trump may both be Republicans but they have contrasting views when it comes to immigration.

Trump has been one of the most anti-immigrant presidents of recent memory. His Administration separated undocumented families at the border, placed bans on travelers from majority-Muslim countries, and he's proudly proclaimed, "Our country is full."

George W. Bush's legacy on immigration is a bit more nuanced. He ended catch-and-release and called for heightened security at the U.S.-Mexico border, but he also championed an immigration bill that created a guest worker program and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people.

Unfortunately, that bill did not pass.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
True

It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

Keep Reading Show less

Roland Pollard and his 4-year-old daughter Jayden have been doing cheer and tumbling stunts together since Jayden could walk. When you see videos of their skills, the level of commitment is apparent—as is the supportive relationship this daddy has with his daughter.

Pollard, a former competitive cheerleader and cheer coach, told In The Know that he didn't expect Jayden to catch on to her flying skills at age 3, but she did. He said he never pressures her to perform stunts and that she enjoys it. And as a viral video of Jayden almost falling during a stunt shows, excelling at a skill requires good teaching—something Pollard appears to have mastered.

Keep Reading Show less