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First Commercial Retinal Prosthesis Implanted

07 November 2011

Second Sight Medical Products, a leading developer of retinal prostheses for the blind, announced that the first ever commercial implantation of such a prosthesis was successfully completed on Saturday, October 29th in Pisa, Italy. The company’s Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System was surgically implanted by Dr. Stanislao Rizzo, Director of the University Hospital Ophthalmic Department of Pisa, in a patient suffering from advanced Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).

Argus II, which received marketing clearance in Europe earlier this year, becomes the world’s first ever commercial implant intended to restore some vision to a previously blind patient.

“I am very pleased to offer in Italy for the first time ever this approved treatment for blindness due to RP. I hope that it will encourage patients suffering from this impactful condition to seek medical advice in centers of excellence around Europe, like the one we have here in Pisa,” said Dr. Rizzo. “It is wonderful that medicine can now do something for the blind.”

Argus II is Second Sight’s less invasive second generation implantable device intended to treat blind people suffering from degenerative diseases of the outer retina such as RP. The system works by converting video images captured by a miniature camera, housed in the patient’s glasses, into a series of small electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes on the surface of the retina (epi-retinal). These pulses are intended to stimulate the retina’s remaining cells resulting in the corresponding perception of patterns of light in the brain. Patients can learn to interpret these visual patterns thereby gaining some functional vision. The system was tested in a multi-center international clinical trial that began in 2007.

Dr. Rizzo indicated that the surgery proceeded without incident, and that the patient is recovering very well. Within a week of surgery, testing of the implanted device will begin and the Argus II will be electronically customized for the patient, who could be using the system at home before the end of the month. Typically, patients require a short period of training and low vision rehabilitation to obtain the best results.

Gregoire Cosendai, PhD, head of Second Sight’s European subsidiary added, “This is truly a historic event that has been decades in the making. This milestone is significant for the company and the field of vision restoration, but most importantly, for these patients who now have a treatment option.”

Cosendai further indicated that the Argus II system is currently available in Germany, France, the UK, and Switzerland, and that Second Sight is actively adding more centers throughout the EEA.
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Maura Arsiero on +41 21 693 91 01 or

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