In 2013, the FDA approved Second Sight Medical’s Argus II, a retinal prosthesis that provides artificial vision by converting images into electrical pulses that can be read by the brain. More than 350 people worldwide received the implant over the last decade, but according to a recent FierceBiotech article, the company has left the users high and dry. Due to financial issues, Second Sight began phasing the Argus II out in 2019. This month, the process was expedited amid the company’s plan to pivot and merge with Nano Precision Medical, a drug delivery implant maker.
The move has left Argus II users without access to upgrades or repairs, meaning their implants will soon go dark. Second Sight’s website claims the implants are “ever-improving,” and offers late-stage retinitis pigmentosa patients “the capacity for future hardware and software upgrades.” However, a report revealed that it stopped offering upgrades back in March of 2020 when the company announced it was laying off 80 of its 108 employees. Second Sight is now shifting focus from the Argus to a newer implant called Orion, which is intended for patients with different needs. Without an option for replacement or technical upgrade, Argus users are left with two options: keep a soon-to-be-obsolete device in their eyes, or undergo an invasive procedure to have it removed.