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These people have bionic eyes; now they leave them lying without support

Among the many challenges that modern medicine has set out to solve is how to restore sight to the blind. Logically, not all people who have lost the ability to see have done so under the same circumstances, and this prevents there from being a uniform solution for all types of blindness. However, significant progress has been made in this area thanks to the development of implants by different companies; although patients who relied on the bionic eyes of Second Sight have run into a serious problem.

According to an IEEE Spectrum report, around 350 people around the world have lost support in their bionic eyes. This is because Second Sight no longer exists as such no longer offers any type of maintenance, updates or upgrades for those who have paid for implants and other related services.

Thus, if a blind man suffers a technical problem that prevents the normal functioning of his bionic eyes, he no longer has a way to repair them. A situation that will undoubtedly be desperate for those who see in this drama an immediate negative impact on their quality of life, and an absolute lack of respect for the great economic effort they made.

According to the aforementioned report, Second Sight released two versions of its retinal implant. The first was released on the market under the name Argus I, while its evolution was called Argus II. This second variant did not only consist of bionic eyes, but also incorporated special glasses with a camera and a video processing unit that could be worn on the belt. In this way, the glasses capture images of what happens in front of the person and send them to the processing device; there they are reduced to 60-pixel black-and-white patterns and sent to the 60-electrode implant.

It is clear that this method does not allow them to see normally, but it does generate shadows and different shades of gray that help patients understand what is happening in their environment.

Patients who relied on Second Sight's bionic eyes drifted

Second Sight's bionic eyes have proven to be a very interesting technological development; they were positioned as a tool to allow the blind to move around on their own or accomplish activities that they would not otherwise be able to do. However, now the users have been left completely adrift.

The company abandoned the development of its retinal implants in 2019, thanks to the serious economic problems it was facing. In 2020 it almost went bankrupt but managed to stay afloat with a public offering in which it raised more than 57 million dollars; Despite this, in recent days it was known that it will merge with the pharmaceutical company Nano Precision Medical. Its employees have been laid off, and its directors will not hold hierarchical positions in the new company.

This basically means that Second Sight has disappeared from the map and has taken with it any possibility of support or maintenance for those who use their bionic eyes. At least for now.

According to some of the patients who opted for the retinal implant of this company, they have spent significant sums of money. The Argus II device alone cost around $150,000 in the US market; but that figure could rise to almost half a million dollars when adding the costs of the surgery to implant it and the rehabilitation process. After all, Second Sight customers had to “learn” to see under this unconventional system.

Those who trusted in Second Sight's bionic eyes do not lose hope that Nano Precision Medical will take over the support. However, from the pharmaceutical company they have not yet given details in this regard. Its CEO, Adam Mendelsohn, told IEEE Spectrum that they are still unaware of contractual obligations to Argus users, but would try to do what is ethically correct. Anyway, he also left another somewhat disturbing phrase, as he expressed that “the past is simply not relevant to the new future” .