September 29, 2010

Dow Jones VentureWire

PowerVision Gears Up For European Trials After $20.5M Series C


PowerVision Lens Inc., which is developing a new type of accommodating intraocular lens, is gearing up to begin European clinical trials after raising a $20.5 million Series C round in July.

Accommodating intraocular lenses are implants that enable cataract patients who have presbyopia to see clearly at all distances. Traditional, monofocal lenses enable vision at a fixed distance and do not correct presbyopia. As a result, patients need reading glasses.

With the population aging, lenses that rid the need for reading glasses are in demand. In October 2009, one accommodating IOL company, venture-backed Visiogen Inc., was acquired by Abbott Laboratories for $400 million.

Visiogen's Synchrony moves with the eye to provide a range of vision. PowerVision attempts to solve the problem differently. Instead of relying on physical movement, its fluid-controlled intraocular lenses change shape in the eye to enable vision at various distances, an approach that mimics the eye's natural accommodative processes, said Chief Business Officer Matt Frinzi.

Healthy people in their mid-30s typically have 10 diopters of accommodation, Frinzi said. Around age 40, that begins to decline. By the time someone needs cataract surgery, usually after age 65, a person may have only one diopter of accommodation left. Early research indicates that PowerVision's lenses can provide greater than five diopters of accommodation, Frinzi said.

The Series C round will enable PowerVision to conduct clinical trials in Europe next year that could enable it to obtain CE Mark. New investor Venrock led the round, and return investors Advanced Technology Ventures, Frazier Healthcare Ventures and Panorama Capital participated.

In addition to completing its CE Mark trial, the financing will enable PowerVision to proceed with clinical investigation, Frinzi said, though he did not give a timetable for starting U.S. studies. The company, based in Belmont, Calif., has now raised a total of $50 million in venture capital. Valuation is undisclosed.

PowerVision competitors include NuLens Ltd., a venture-backed company in Israel. In addition to Abbott, large companies in this market include Bausch & Lomb, which sells the Crystalens accommodating intraocular lens.

Venrock Partner Bryan Roberts joined the PowerVision round with the Series C round.