Feb 17, 2022 - Technology

Bionic eye recipients left in the dark with obsolete tech

 Illustrated collage of an outstretched hand, eyes, pulse rates and an ear.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A nightmare scenario: A cutting-edge, life-changing device embedded in your body fails and the company behind it is all but gone.

It happened to more than 350 people who are blind around the world who received artificial eyes only to be abandoned by the company that invented them, Second Sight Medical Products, the technology journal IEEE Spectrum writes.

Why it matters: Entrepreneurs are rushing to cash in on recent advances in brain technology with such hopes as reversing depression, treating Alzheimer's disease or restoring mobility.

  • But not all companies will succeed and the risk for early adopters is that their high-tech implants turn into just another obsolete gadget.
  • The fallout of Second Sight's saga is a reminder of the perils of relying on private companies for essential health devices.

Details: Second Sight ran into financial trouble in early 2020 and abandoned its retinal implant technology as it struggled to avoid bankruptcy.

  • Now it's merging with an early-stage biopharmaceutical company, Nano Precision Medical, that is developing a new implant for drug delivery.

What they're saying: "It is fantastic technology and a lousy company," patient Ross Doerr says of Second Sight, per IEEE Spectrum.

  • "As long as nothing goes wrong, I'm fine," added another, Terry Byland, a double-implant recipient. "But if something does go wrong with it, well, I'm screwed. Because there's no way of getting it fixed."

Read the full account here.

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