Second Sight Medical Products Inc. announced Monday that it tripled the number of implants of its prosthetic eyesight device in the fourth quarter over the same period the previous year, sending the company’s stock up almost 13 percent against sharp losses for the market overall.
The Sylmar medical device firm implanted its Argus II retinal prosthesis system in 30 patients between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2017, compared to seven implants during the same three months in 2016. Second Sight had a total of 75 implants for the full year, growth of roughly 80 percent year over year.
Second Sight also said Monday that it completed the first human implant of its second visual prosthesis system, Orion, in late January at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center. Both the Orion and the Argus II are designed to create “artificial” vision for blind patients, but unlike Argus – which is implanted in the eye – Orion is placed directly on the occipital cortex, the part of the brain that processes visual information.
The potential market for Orion is much larger than that for Argus II, which is meant for patients whose retinas have been destroyed by a condition called retinitis pigmentosa. Orion works in individuals who have lost their sight due to any condition that damages the occipital cortex, from diabetes to trauma – a population of roughly 6 million people worldwide, the company estimates. In contrast, the number of patients who could benefit from Argus II is closer to 400,000, according to Second Sight.
“(The Orion implant) is a significant milestone for Second Sight, and a critical step forward in meeting our company’s mission to treat nearly all forms of blindness,” Chief Executive Will McGuire said in a statement. Second Sight received Food and Drug Administration approval to conduct clinical trials on Orion last fall.
Shares of Second Sight (EYES) rose about 12.7 percent (26 cents) on Monday to close at $2.31 on the Nasdaq, which overall saw losses of 3.8 percent.