Ophthalmology Month in Review: 7 Top Stories from March 2023

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Our highlights from March 2023 included a teaser episode of a new KOL-led podcast, a feature elucidating a rare eye disease, and a look at the development of new therapies for geographic atrophy.

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March was another exciting month for our coverage of ophthalmic conditions, from in-depth stories on the latest retina research to the introduction of new multimedia offerings and a feature-length look at a rare eye disease.

Here are our top 7 stories from March 2023:

A Shot in the Dark: Searching for Therapies to Treat Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of rare eye diseases that changes how the retina responds to light, as photoreceptor cells break down slowly over time, beginning with the loss of night vision and progressing over time to affect peripheral vision and central vision.

Only a single gene therapy agent has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat this condition, and so researchers continue to look for new direct therapies for other genetic subtypes and to slow the onset of this debilitating disease.

We consulted experts from the Wilmer Eye Institute and the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute to gain insight into the genetic components of the disease and the future treatment avenues for retinitis pigmentosa.

A First Look at New Insight with Veeral Sheth, MD

March was another month of growth for our multimedia offerings, as we introduced New Insight with Veeral Sheth, MD, an in-depth KOL-led podcast series on the biggest news in ophthalmology. Together, with Sheth, the Director of Clinical Trials at University Retina in Chicago, we look to pull back the curtains into the behind the scenes work involved in eye care.

Numerous guests will join Sheth to give perspective and share new insight into an evolving field of medicine, with each episode featuring conversations on landmark research news, innovative therapies, and major medical meetings. Each episode will consider the question, “What does it mean to be an ophthalmologist in the 21st century?”

Here, check out a teaser for our first episode featuring Arshad Khanani, MD, Director of Clinical Research, Sierra Eye Associates.

Identifying Risk Factors for AMD Progression Could Improve Clinical Outcomes

Identifying modifiable risk factors for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) progression may help prevent the late stage of the disease. A recent investigation examined the relationship between disease progression with clinical characteristics, demographic, and environmental risk factors over a 3-year period.

Results indicated baseline clinical characteristics were not related to AMD progression, but worse visual acuity and wet AMD subtype in one eye were significantly correlated with disease advancement. Medication use showed no association with disease advancement, save for thyroxine use, which was a significant predictor of AMD progression.

4 Geographic Atrophy Drug Classes Under Development

A recent review highlighted 4 promising treatment options for patients with geographic atrophy secondary to AMD, including complement inhibitors, neuroprotective agents, gene therapies, and stem cell therapies.

Pegcetacoplan, an immune response-targeting agent, has recently been approved by the FDA as the first drug indicated for geographic atrophy, whilst Avacincaptad pegol, another complement inhibitor, and OpRegen, a stem cell therapy, are still in development.

Combination Therapy with Brolucizumab Appeared Well-Tolerated for nAMD Eyes

New retrospective data suggest combination anti-VEGF therapy alternating between intravitreal brolucizumab and monthly aflibercept appeared beneficial, well-tolerated in eyes with neovascular AMD.

The majority of eyes with brolucizumab treatment saw improvements in macular fluid, stabilization of best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), and/or an increase in treatment interval. The investigative team noted few cases of mild intraocular inflammation (IOI) observed were not associated with vision loss in treated eyes.

Incremental Reimbursement Undervalues Cost of Complex Cataract Surgery

An economic analysis showed that incremental reimbursement for complex cataract surgery may not fully cover the resource costs required for the procedure.

The investigative team found that complex cataract surgery was more expensive than simple cataract surgery, with the difference exceeding Medicare reimbursement rates for complex cataract surgery.

The findings may affect ophthalmologist practice patterns and access to care for certain patients and could justify increasing the reimbursement rates for complex cataract surgery.

Perfluorohexyloctane Drops Rapidly Improved Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease

A new study found that perfluorohexyloctane eye drops significantly improved the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease (DED) associated with meibomian gland dysfunction in patients in China.

The perfluorohexyloctane group showed superior improvement in total corneal fluorescein staining and eye dryness scores compared to the control group. Investigators from Beijing Institute of Ophthalmology recommended further independent validation and longer-term studies to confirm the effectiveness of the drops.

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