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Doctors Weigh in on Top Eye Care Advances of the Decade

01/14/2010   08:30:00 AM

SAN FRANCISCO- A number of new treatments to combat sight-stealing diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma became available in the past decade, but which advances do Eye M.D.s themselves consider most important? The American Academy of Ophthalmology (Academy) put the question to its members in a December 2009 online survey. Of 423 respondents, more than half (51.9 percent) cited Anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) treatments for “wet” AMD as most significant. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) was next at 23. 9 percent, followed distantly at 6.6 percent by a glaucoma treatment, Prostamide eye drops. Several other advances–including premium intraocular lenses (IOLs), the Femtosecond laser, gene therapy for Leber’s congenital amaurosis and DSAEK (Descemet's stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty)–were each cited by about 3 percent of respondents. The survey was conducted and results were made available to all members through the Academy’s comprehensive, web-based education system, the O.N.E. (Ophthalmic News and Education) Network.

Anti-VEGF medications inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor, which can cause abnormal blood vessel growth in the eye’s retina and lead to irreversible vision loss. When this class of drugs was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in December 2004, ophthalmologists gained a powerful tool to control wet AMD and prevent vision loss in patients with this previously devastating disease. Research on anti-VEGF treatment for diabetic retinopathy and other serious eye diseases is now underway.

OCT represents a significant improvement over earlier imaging technologies. It can provide cross-sectional images of the macula, topographic images of the optic nerve and measurements of the thickness of the retinal nerve fiber layer. OCT allows ophthalmologists to better diagnose and manage a variety of retinal diseases, as well as glaucoma. It is noninvasive and very fast: a scan can be completed in about one second.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons—Eye M.D.s—with more than 27,000 members worldwide.  Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s” – opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the Academy's Web site at www.aao.org.

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