Ophthalmology Month in Review: April 2023

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Each month, our editorial staff compiles a recap of the top news in ophthalmology from the past month. Our April 2023 month-in-review features data on the association between social determinants of health and vision loss, preferences for AMD monitoring, and the launch of a new multimedia series.

April was host to exciting stories on crossover coverage in ophthalmology, from the risk of retinal diseases after COVID-19 vaccination to the association between social determinants of health and vision loss and the potential for rare genetic variants to drive the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The HCPLive® team was also excited to launch our newest multimedia series, New Insight with Veeral Sheth, MD, and featured two new episodes with important KOLs in April. In addition, we attended the 2023 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. If you are interested in checking out our content, visit our coverage page here.

For now, here are our top 7 posts in our ophthalmology coverage from April 2023 in our latest month in review.

New-Onset Retinal Vascular Occlusion Rare After mRNA COVID-19 Vaccination

In a retrospective analysis of more than 3 million patients who received the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, the risk for a new-encounter diagnosis of retinal vascular occlusion (RVO) was found to be extremely low. The investigative team from the Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute found that RVO diagnosed acutely after vaccination was rare and occurred at similar rates to those observed with other vaccinations, including influenza and tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap). However, they noted that it remained possible that RVO is a direct adverse effect of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine among certain patient groups who may be too few to produce significant results at a population level or that electronic health record data could mask an association.

Incidence of Retinopathy of Prematurity Nearly Doubled in US From 2003 to 2019

A retrospective cohort study reported the overall incidence of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) among infants born prematurely nearly doubled between 2003 and 2019, from 4.4% in 2004 to 8.1% in 2019. This was particularly apparent in traditionally underserved populations, showing a greater increase in infants included in the database as Black, born in a lower-income household, or born in the South or Midwest. The investigative team from the Baylor College of Medicine cited low ROP awareness and inadequate screening, as well as limited access to care, as potential reasons for health inequalities in certain subpopulations across the US.

5 Domains of Social Determinants of Health Associated with Vision Loss

A recent analysis of 3 nationally representative data sets reported that social determinants of health (SDOH) across the domains of economic stability, educational attainment, health care access and quality, neighborhood, and built environment, and social context were significant predictors of poor vision. The direction of the association between SDOH and vision impairment was found consistent regardless of whether vision loss was examination-based or self-reported. Investigators from NORC at the University of Chicago supported the use of self-reported vision data in a surveillance system in order to assess trends in SDOH and vision health outcomes at subnational geographies and over time.

Clinic Visits Remain Preference for AMD Monitoring in Event of Home Confinement

A recent study from Switzerland revealed most patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD) would still prefer a clinic visit to receive anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) injections in the event of a situation similar to COVID-19 home confinement. Investigators from the University of Lausanne found a significant percentage of wet AMD failed to receive their scheduled intravitreal anti-VEGF injections, despite the availability of clinicians to perform them. The analysis showed those who were non-adherent to their injection interval during COVID-19 home confinement preferred telemedicine monitoring at a greater rate than those who adhered to their assigned injection interval during the same period.

Rare Genetic Variants May Drive Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

A new analysis from the National Eye Institute (NEI) identified extremely rare genetic variants that may point to one of the general mechanisms causing AMD in older adults. The investigative team from the NEI noted the identified variants may generate malformed proteins that alter the stability of the membrane attack complex (MAC) and could drive a chronic inflammatory response in the retina. Affected patients with AMD may have mutations in one of two proteins that form one end of MAC, including complement Factor 8-alpha (C8-alpha) and C8-beta.

ESSENCE-2 Trial Confirms Efficacy of Cyclosporine Solution 0.1% for DED

The phase 3 ESSENCE-2 trial indicated treatment with a water-free cyclosporine solution 0.1% showed early therapeutic effects on the ocular surface in patients with moderate to severe dry eye disease (DED). The multicenter study showed the superiority of the water-free cyclosporine ophthalmic solution to vehicle in total corneal fluorescein staining (tCFS) score at day 29, remaining consistent with results from the ESSENCE-1 trial. Investigators from the Wilmer Eye Institute noted a statistically significant onset of effect in tCFS at day 15, a significantly faster rate than results reported for other therapies for DED.

New Insight with Veeral Sheth, MD

As providers of timely and topline clinical news and insights, HCPLive® is always aiming to provide content that reflects the new agenda of healthcare. April brought the launch of our newest podcast series, New Insight with Veeral Sheth, MD. Sheth is the Director of Clinical Trials at University Retina in Chicago and a respected member of the retina research community. This new offering will serve as a platform for a key leader in the space to converse with the most important movers and shakers in ophthalmology and examine transformations in the field

The first episode titled “The State of Retina Today, and Where We're Heading” featured a conversation with Arshad Khanani, MD, Director of Clinical Research, Sierra Eye Associates exciting developments from 2022, and a look at both the conference and treatment landscape unfolding in 2023. The second episode “A Look at Avacincaptad Pegol” hosted a conversation with Pravin Dugel, MD, President of Iveric Bio, to discuss avacincaptad pegol for geographic atrophy (GA) and a look at his career and transition into the pharmaceutical industry. Keep an eye out for more episodes expected to be released throughout the rest of the year.