Eye On the Cure Research News

Feb 18, 2013

History in the Making

More good news about treatments and technological advances for restoring vision for people with retinal diseases.

Photo of the Argus II implanted in the Retina

The Argus II implanted on the retina

When it comes to restoring vision in people with retinal diseases, history isn't made overnight. Treatments and technological advances have to, first, be tested in labs, and then in clinical, or human, trials. And how quickly they move through the process depends on how readily they're funded, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. So, making a treatment or device available to the general public takes years, if not decades. Which is why we, at the Foundation, are so excited about last week's announcement that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted market approval of the Argus II retinal prosthesis.

Better known as the "bionic retina," the device had been in development for 20-plus years, as Robert Greenberg, founder and CEO of its maker, Second Sight Medical Products, Inc., shared in an Eye on the Cure post. In particular, it serves those with advanced retinitis pigmentosa who are either profoundly or completely blind. I recently had the privilege of speaking with Keith Hayman, a charming, gregarious Englishman who participated in an Argus II clinical trial in the UK and told me it took years off his life.

Market approval of the Argus II is especially poignant because FFB funded an early stage of its development, and we've closely followed and reported on its development ever since. For these reasons, Foundation staff and board members were quoted, last week, in articles on the device in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Our offices were also paid a visit by Al Jazeera TV, which aired this piece over the weekend.

But the buzz extends even farther, with articles and posts showing up in numerous blogs and publications, including USA Today, Forbes, Popular Science, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

We congratulate Second Sight and are honored to have played a role in the Argus II's development. And, as always, we look forward to reporting more good news about treatments and technological advances for restoring vision for people with retinal diseases in the future.