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Second Sight Wants to Treat Most Blind People with New Bionic Eye

Chris Newmarker

April 10, 2015

2 Min Read
Second Sight Wants to Treat Most Blind People with New Bionic Eye

Animal studies have started with the company's Orion I, which taps directly into the visual cortex.

Chris Newmarker

Second Sight Medical Products already has a bionic eye that can be useful to people with some types of outer-retinal degenerations. But now the company is setting its own sights on a more ambitious project: a prosthesis able to treat most forms of blindness.

The Orion I Visual Cortical Prosthesis uses much of the same technology as the FDA-approved Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, where a video camera in a patient's glasses sends signals to a processor that then communicates with an implant. But unlike the Argus II, the Orion I implant bypasses the retina and optic nerve altogether and is implanted on the surface of the visual cortex located within the occipital lobe of the brain.

Second Sight (Sylmar, CA) announced in the past week that it has successfully implant of a mechanical model of the Orion I in an animal. The company's plan is to get fully functional prototypes into animals by early 2016, with the first clinical trials for the Orion I in 2017.

This is a major milestone not only for the company but, more importantly, those affected by virtually all forms of blindness," Second Sight CEO Robert Greenberg, MD, PhD, said in a news release.

"Following the success of Argus II in patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa, we are looking forward to extending the hope of restoring some useful vision to nearly all blind individuals with the Orion I," Greenberg said.

Second Sight's stock has been trading about $2 per share higher, at more than $13, since the news of the animal implantation. That's still not as high as previous peaks since the company's November 2014 IPO, which raised $32 million.

Refresh your medical device industry knowledge at BIOMEDevice Boston, May 6-7, 2015.

Chris Newmarker is senior editor of Qmed and MPMN. Follow him on Twitter at @newmarker.

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