Visual prosthetic-maker Second Sight Medical Products Inc. announced Wednesday it has successfully implanted and activated its vision-restoring system for the first time in a patient with age-related macular degeneration, part of a study that could lead to a much wider pool of potential customers for the firm’s groundbreaking product.
The Sylmar firm’s stock shot up 6.6 percent on the news, closing at $14.37.
Second Sight’s Argus II retinal prosthetic is meant to restore some useful vision to blind patients and is currently approved in the United States and Europe for people blinded by outer retinal degenerations, such as retinitis pigmentosa.
In this new study, the device will be tested in five patients with late-stage “dry” age-related macular degeneration, which severely affects central vision.
Whereas 375,000 people worldwide are blinded by retinitis pigmentosa, 2 million are legally blind due to age-related macular degeneration, Second Sight estimated.
“We are very excited to begin such an important study for this patient population and to have the opportunity to help a great deal more people living with blindness,” said Second Sight Chief Executive Robert Greenberg in a statement. “Though it is obviously still early in this clinical trial, we are very encouraged by these initial results.”
Second Sight plans to conduct a larger study to support market approval if this initial study goes well.
The firm, which has a market cap of $509 million, saw net sales of $3.4 million last year and a net loss of $35.2 million mostly due to marketing, research and development and general and administrative expenses.