Second Sight Reports Future Plans for Bionic Retinas

March 20, 2014
While Second Sight Medical Products is actively moving out its Argus II retinal prosthesis systems to blind patients in the United States and Europe, the developer of the first commercially available bionic retina also has its eye on the future. The company is working on a number of upgrades and enhancements to restore vision in more patients and improve the visual experience for existing users.

In a presentation at the Foundation’s Sixth Annual Ophthalmic Innovation Symposium in Orange County, California, on February 27, Robert Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D., chief executive officer at Second Sight, said that the Argus II is now, or will soon be, available at 12 clinical centers in the United States. The device received regulatory approval last year from the Food and Drug Administration for people with advanced retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

Commercially available for people with RP in Europe, the Argus II is moving into a clinical trial there for people with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55 in developed countries. About 30 million people around the world have the condition, with 10 million affected in the United States.

“We are excited about the potential to expand our market for the Argus II and improve vision and quality of life for many more people,” Dr. Greenberg said at the symposium. “Though there are some treatments for AMD, there are many people with significant vision loss who have no options for vision restoration.”

Dr. Greenberg also reported that the company plans to roll out software upgrades to improve the visual experience for existing and future Argus II users. Planned improvements include the possibility of color vision and the creation of virtual electrodes, which would enable users to perceive visual detail beyond what’s provided by the 60 electrodes on the system’s retinal chip. One person who was completely blind was able to achieve 20/200 acuity thanks to an Argus II software upgrade.

The company is in the very early stages of developing a system which uses Argus II hardware and technology to interface directly with the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes visual information. “By bypassing the retina and the optic nerve, we can help patients who are blind from virtually all causes,” said Dr. Greenberg.

Second Sight will provide additional information on its development activities as major milestones are achieved. Interested candidates or their families can contact Second Sight at 855-756-3703 or by email:
patients@2-sight.com.