More than 350 blind people worldwide have eye implants made by Second Sight Medical Products, which may help partially restore some aspects of sight. But the company ditched the technology a few years ago when it was on the verge of bankruptcy, according to a new survey by IEEE Spectrum. Now, if something goes wrong with the implants, users are stuck.
“It’s fantastic technology and lousy company,” said Ross Doerr, a Second Sight patient. IEEE Spectrum.
Second Sight’s implants, the Argus I and Argus II, do not restore normal vision; people see things in shades of gray that disappear when they move their head. And the results vary from person to person. Some users of the implants, which were deployed a decade ago, found it difficult to distinguish even the basic shapes. Others are now able to do things like skiing.
People who received the implants were informed that there would be future technology updates and improvements, such as software updates to increase the number of pixels in the system and thermal imaging, IEEE Spectrum reported this week. But these improvements never materialized. In 2019, the company said it planned to phase out its retinal implant technology. In 2020 the CEO left the company and most of the employees were made redundant. Second Sight says IEEE Spectrum that the layoffs meant he “was unable to maintain the previous level of support and communication for Argus II centers and users”.
Now Second Sight is planning a merger with a biopharmaceutical company to work on drug delivery. Argus patients still don’t know what this means for them and fear they’ll be stuck with dead hardware that can’t be repaired.
Read the story here.