Second Sight Reaches Middle East: Another Major Milestone for Blind People With Retinitis Pigmentosa

First Two Patients in Saudi Arabia Fitted With Argus(R) II Retinal Prosthesis

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, and RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, March 6, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE ) –

King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital (KKESH), the leading center for ophthalmic patient care in the Middle East and well-recognized hospital internationally, marked an important milestone this week when a patient blinded by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) was implanted with an Argus II Retinal Prosthesis (Argus II), becoming the 1st patient in the Middle East to be fitted with sight restoring technology manufactured by Second Sight Medical Products Inc.

RP is a rare, hereditary disease that causes a progressive degeneration of the light-sensitive cells of the retina, leading to significant visual impairment and ultimately blindness. There are an estimated 1.2 million people worldwide with RP. Argus II is the only approved treatment for end stage retinitis pigmentosa in the world. Second Sight’s Argus II System employs electrical stimulation to bypass the defunct cells and stimulate remaining viable retinal cells inducing visual perception in blind individuals. The Argus II is the first artificial retina to receive approval in Europe (CE Mark), in Saudi Arabia and in the USA.

“As I was implanting the first device in the middle east I could only think about how significant it is for blind people to recover vision, and how many patients will benefit from some restored vision with this implant in Saudi Arabia and worldwide,” said Dr. Fernando Arevalo, Adjunct Professor of Ophthalmology at Wilmer Eye Institute (Retina Division) at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Chief of the Vitreo-retinal Division at KKESH. One day later Dr. Saba al Rashaed, Associate Chief of Vitro-retinal Division at KKESH, performed the second case.

Gregoire Cosendai, PhD, Head of Europe for Second Sight: “We are very pleased to introduce our treatment for the blind to KKESH, the leading center for ophthalmic patient care in the Middle East and well recognized hospital internationally. KKESH is now offering the only treatment for blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa and they are advancing the therapy in their clinic. Leading ophthalmologists in the Middle East can now refer to KKESH and offer the benefit of Argus II to their patients. ”

“The patient’s interest in Argus II Bionic Eye’s benefits have been very gratifying,” said Abdul-Elah Al-Towerki, MD, General Executive Director, KKESH. “We believe that it is an essential role to provide high-quality health care and to introduce new and improved methods of diagnosing, treating, and preventing disease. KKESH is the centre of excellence for vision and is at the forefront of medical innovation globally. This achievement has been made possible by the grace of Allah, the Almighty, and through the generous ongoing support of the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud.”

About the Second Sight Retinal Prosthesis System

The system works by converting video images captured by a miniature camera, housed in the patient’s glasses, into a series of small electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes on the surface of the retina. These pulses are intended to stimulate the retina’s remaining cells resulting in the corresponding perception of patterns of light in the brain. Patients then learn to interpret these visual patterns thereby regaining some visual function. Six of the first 60 patients were implanted with a first generation Argus I system, that was attached to an electronic implant inserted invasively in the skull behind the ear with a wire connecting to the eye under the skin. The last 55 patients have received the second generation Argus II system, which is much less invasive and is implanted only in and around the eye. Second Sight gained European approval (CE Mark) for the Argus II system in 2011 — the first and only approval of a retinal prosthesis anywh

ere in the world. In February 2013, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Argus II.

About Second Sight

Second Sight Medical Products Inc., located in Los Angeles, California, was founded in 1998 to create a retinal prosthesis to provide sight to patients blinded from outer retinal degenerations, such as RP. Through dedication and innovation, Second Sight’s mission is to develop, manufacture and market implantable visual prosthetics to enable blind individuals to achieve greater independence. European Headquarters are in Lausanne, Switzerland. For more information, go to www.2-sight.com.

CONTACT: Second Sight Medical Products
Maura Arsiero, PhD
Tel: +41 21 693 91 01
Mobile: +41 76 570 88 70