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Second Sight Soars as FDA Approves Argus 2s Vision Aid

Second Sight is developing a system to combat vision loss in patients with retinitis pigmentosa.
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Shares of artificial vision device maker Second Sight Medical Products  (EYES)  almost tripled Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the company's Argus 2s retinal prosthesis for treatment of retinitis pigmentosa (RP). 

RP is a rare genetic disorder that involves the breakdown and loss of cells in the retina of the eye. It causes vision loss that worsens over time and can eventually lead to blindness. 

The Argus 2s is a set of external hardware, glasses and a video processing unit that will all be part of a larger visual prosthesis system that is also currently under development. 

"We are very pleased to have received this approval, as it presents an opportunity to offer external hardware that we believe enhance comfort and aesthetics compared with the legacy Argus II system," said CEO Matthew Pfeffer.

Second Sight shares were rising 195% to $4.22 per share at last check on Friday.  

The Argus 2s provides electrical stimulation that bypasses the deteriorating retinal cells while stimulating the remaining viable cells, inducing visual perception in individuals with severe to profound cases of RP. 

The device converts images captured by a miniature video camera mounted on the patient's glasses into a series of small electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes implanted on the surface of the patient's retina. 

The patient must learn to interpret these visual patterns, giving them the potential to regain some visual function. 

The company's Orion Visual Cortical Prosthesis System works similarly but sends electrical pulses directly to an array of electrodes implanted on the surface of the brain's visual cortex. 

Orion is currently being tested on six subjects in an early feasibility test at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.