Second Sight Medical Products Inc., will begin trading tomorrow after an initial public offering
that may value the business at more than $300 million. (Ticker symbol: EYES.)
The company’s eye implant is currently limited to patients who still have a functioning optic nerve.
The next stage is to connect the implant directly to the surface of the brain, a treatment that would target all forms of blindness, said Chief Executive Officer Robert Greenberg.
Second Sight, based in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Sylmar, plans to raise more than $30 million
in its offering, selling 3.5 million shares for $9 each. Mann, who will be chairman, will own 32 percent of the shares, according to company filings.
Mann founded Second Sight in 1998. The company got U.S. approval last year for the first implantable
visual prosthetic approved to treat retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary disease in which patients experience
a progressive degeneration of the light-sensitive cells of the retina.
The device, called Argus II, is placed on the surface of the retina. It converts video images into electrical pulses
that stimulate the remaining viable cells, restoring some vision. It’s now been implanted in about 90 patients
around the world, said CEO Greenberg, and is in trials to expand its use.
“We had spent years in animal trials with failure after failure, and it looked like, perhaps,
we could never get it to work,” Greenberg said in a telephone interview, talking about development of the Argus II.
Mann “said the problem we’re facing is a technical one, a mechanical engineering problem,
it’s solvable. He would say, ‘Go back and figure it out! Make it work!’”