Early detection of retinal diseases can preclude the need for surgery

Conditions such as macular degeneration (AMD) and vitreomacular traction can be treated with a single intravitreal injection

We reproduce an article published in Spain’s El País newspaper featuring an interview with Dr Borja Corcóstegui, the medical director of IMO. “Too many people put off dealing with eye problems. If a person loses some vision, they should see a specialist for a proper diagnosis,” advises Dr Borja Corcóstegui, the medical director of the Ocular Microsurgery Institute (IMO). This is because early detection can determine the success of the treatments available, especially in degenerative conditions that affect the retina. The retina forms an essential part of the eye. It is responsible for converting the light it receives into nerve impulses that are sent to the brain, which translates them into images. It is normally red, due to its high blood supply, but if it has a different tone, it could be an indication that the person has an eye disorder. To treat retinal conditions, it is possible to use pharmacological treatments that can, in many cases, preclude the need for surgery. The latest is a new drug to treat vitreomacular traction. With just one injection, patients can regain their visual quality. But, as specialists insist, early detection is very important.

Specialists recommend making an annual visit to the ophthalmologist after the age of 40

An interview by El País with Dr. Borja Corcóstegui

 

The most common retinal condition is dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In Spain, around 26,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. It is a condition that damages a part of the retina, the macula, which is responsible for central vision.

AMD is the leading cause of legal blindness in Spain. In addition, other retinal diseases exist that seriously affect eye health, such as diabetic retinopathy and vitreomacular traction. While the first is caused by damage to blood vessels – the layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye –, the second consists of the incomplete separation of the vitreous from the macula, which causes tension in the retina. Vitreomacular traction, which affects almost 300,000 people in Europe, can cause retinal disorders, manifested in the form of a macular hole. 

All of these are progressive diseases with symptoms, the most common of which are loss of vision and blurred vision. Age is a risk factor in all of them. “The older we are, the more likely we are of developing them, especially after the age of 50,” explains Dr Corcóstegui. This is why specialists recommend that having an annual eye check-up after the age 40 is the best way of preventing eye problems. Dr Corcóstegui adds, however, that “as diabetic retinopathy is a disease associated with diabetes, it can also occur in young people.” The treatment of retinal diseases has generally been associated with surgical procedures, but, as a result of medical advances in recent years, it is possible to maintain a good quality of vision without undergoing surgery. Since 2005, intravitreal antiangiogenic drugs have been used to treat AMD and diabetic retinopathy and, since early this year, a new injectable drug has been available on the market in America and some European countries for vitreomacular traction.

This drug, applied with a single intravitreal injection, makes it possible to eliminate the traction through separation from the vitreous and macula. This is achieved by dissolving some of the proteins in the fibres that cause the traction. “It is important to be selective when choosing the cases with which this drug may work, which is usually 50% of patients. Everything depends on the clinical characteristics of the disease and the stage at which it is detected, which should be as soon as possible,” explains Dr Corcóstegui, and he concludes, “we are still not sure whether with early treatment vision is always better.” Download the article in PDF

You may be interested in