Leading world experts in the field of the retina shared at IMO the latest developments within the specialty on the occasion of the conference Trends in surgical and medical retina, which was led by Dr. Borja Corcóstegui.
In its third edition, this internationally renowned meeting brought together 350 ophthalmologists from around the world and highlighted the need to move towards solutions that allow patients retain useful vision throughout their lifetime.
To achieve this aim, one of the big bets are gene therapies, which have proven effective in studies that are in the final stage before commercialisation. As a previous step to their application, the experts gathered in Barcelona stressed the importance of performing a genetic diagnosis on those patients who are candidates for these therapies.
The new generation of treatments based on gene therapies is prepared to share the limelight with an already consolidated and steadily progressing revolution in the field of the retina; intraocular drug injections.
The current challenge with these drugs, which manage to decrease the number of surgeries and, in many cases, improve outcomes, lies in optimising formulas which reduce the patients' dependency with fewer injections. For this purpose, we are working on long-term medication and combinations of different drugs, as well as the development of sustained-release treatments.
In parallel to the study on the implementation of devices that release drugs inside the retina, other trials are being conducted, in this case in Phase I, which consist in injecting into the retina modified cells to secrete drugs against those factors that damage the retina and produce, for example, neovascularisation or macular oedema.
If the good initial results are confirmed, it will not only be possible to improve the vision of patients, but also to avoid having to undergo monthly injections, thanks to an effectiveness of over a year.
OCT and 3D technology in the operating room
In addition to focusing their interest on the medical developments achieved in the treatment of retinal diseases, the experts gathered at the Trends in Retina discussed the progress experienced in the operating room, especially as regards the viewing of the retina by surgeons. In this sense, they highlighted the benefits of the "reinvention" of OCT by integrating it in the surgical equipment and discussed the contribution of something as innovative as 3D surgery.
The details afforded by these new ways of viewing make it possible to perform high-precision operations. The use of small calibre instruments contributes as well to a minimally invasive micro-incision surgery, which has reduced the time of interventions and the risk of complications, with better visual results and greater comfort for patients.
Finally, with respect to prevention and monitoring of people affected by retinal diseases, one of the novelties presented during IMO conference was the development of telemedicine to monitor, among other parameters, the visual acuity of patients from home through a mobile application.
The widespread use of smartphones among the population makes this development available to patients, especially those with chronic diseases, and opens up new perspectives, such as the possibility of taking retinal photographs with the mobile phone by attaching a plastic adapter and a lens to the phone.