Scientists have helped restore partial sight to six blind people using an implant which transmits video images to the brain.
The groundbreaking discovery found some vision was made possible - with the participants' eyes bypassed - by using a video camera attached to glasses, which sent footage to electrodes implants in the visual cortex of the brain.
University College London lecturer and Optegra Eye Hospital surgeon Alex Shortt said this was a significant discovery by specialists from Baylor Medical College in Texas and the University of California Los Angeles.
She told the Daily Mail: "Previously all attempts to create a ‘bionic eye’ focused on implanting into the eye itself. It required you to have a working eye, a working optic nerve.
“By bypassing the eye completely you open the potential up to many, many more people.
“This is a complete paradigm shift for treating people with complete blindness. It is a real message of hope.”
The technology has not yet been tested on people who were born blind.
The study asked participants, who had been completely blind for years, to look at a blacked-out computer screen and identify a white square appearing randomly at different location son the monitor.
Most of the time, the participants were able to correct identify the square.
Paul Phillip, who has been blind for almost a decade, said when he goes on walks with his wife, he is able to see where the grass meets with the pavement.
He said he was also able to see where his white sofa is located.
Mr Phillip said: "It really is amazing to be able to see something even if it is just points of light for now.”
Dnaiel Yoshor, the study leader and neurosurgeon, said there was "still a long way from what we hope to achieve".
“This is an exciting time in neuroscience and neurotechnology, and I feel that within my lifetime we can restore functional sight to the blind,” Dr Yoshor said.