Experts from around the globe converged in San Francisco, California
This year’s American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting was held 3 to 6 November, 2023. The meeting brought 15,749 attendees to San Francisco, California, including 2,500 international physicians. The virtual component expanded the conference to 2,494 attendees, including 400 international physicians who logged on to learn about new breakthroughs in the field.
Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, of the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford University, presented on gender disparities in vision loss and blindness. Investigators questioned whether women faced increased odds of suffering vision loss compared with men. Using data from the IRIS registry, researchers were able to assess patients with a variety of eye conditions including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion, retinal detachment, cataracts, amblyopia and corneal opacity.
“We found that women were overrepresented in the vision loss relative to the non-vision loss group,” Dr Hartnett told David Hutton, editor of Ophthalmology Times®. “In fact, there was a 15% increased odds of women having vision loss." Women also made up a majority of patients with vision loss in every condition except retinal detachment.
Another study took a close look at children with a diagnosis of sickle cell disease. Patients with sickle cell disease can face vision issues when misshapen red blood cells become trapped in the small blood vessels at the back of the eye. Although sickle retinopathy is considered an age-dependent process, researchers at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center presented surprising research results at the AAO meeting. Their study found that one in three children had retinopathy, of which 9% required treatment, suggesting children need to be screened for vision problems as often as adults with sickle cell disease.
Penny Asbell, MD, FACS, external professor of biomedical engineering at The University of Memphis, Tennessee, told our team about the poster she presented at AAO. Her primary topics included the cutting-edge therapeutic and diagnostic advancements currently available in ocular infections. Her research is informed by the ARMOR study, which provided new insights about antibiotic resistance patterns that are vital information for ophthalmologists.
The ever-changing digital landscape also received lots of attention – though some outlooks were more positive than others. Researchers from the University of Southern California partnered with practicing ophthalmologists to test the efficacy of artificial intelligence chat programmes ChatGPT, Google Bard and Bing Chat. They discovered significant shortcomings in the chatbots’ responses, including inaccurate information and a consistent bias against female ophthalmologists.
Luckily, other new technologies demonstrated benefits to patients and promising results. The AAO collaborated with FundamentalVR to develop the Knights Templar Eye Foundation (KTEF) Pediatric Ophthalmology Virtual Reality (VR) Simulation Program. The open-access training programme uses virtual reality to train ophthalmologists at any career stage in a specialised paediatric curriculum.
Thomas V. Johnson, MD, PhD, of the Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, shared his pearls for home monitoring of intraocular pressure. He told Eye Care Network Editorial Director Sheryl Stevenson how home tonometry can improve treatment efficacy. Taking a different approach to practice management and digital tools, Peter J. McDonnell, MD, director of the Wilmer Eye Institute, discussed the unique ways ophthalmologists navigate physician burnout.
Finally, AAO represented the culmination of many research efforts from around the globe, with plenty of long-awaited data making a debut. Iveric Bio announced positive phase 3 results for the company’s avacincaptad pegol intravitreal solution, Izervay, as a treatment for geographic atrophy secondary to AMD. We spoke with Oliver Hvidt, CEO and co-founder of Norlase, about the company’s 4-year journey and the new products that developed along the way. Chief among them is the ECHO, a portable and affordable pattern laser that made its debut in 2022.
Daniel Chang, MD, cataract and refractive surgeon at Empire Eye and Laser Center in Bakersfield, California, presented on the TECNIS Symfony lens and the new TECNIS Symfony OptiBlue. Caroline Baumal, MD, chief medical officer at Apellis Pharmaceuticals, spoke with Ophthalmology Times on the GALE extension study of pegcetacoplan for geographic atrophy, a 3-year extension study following the OAKS and DERBY trials. And Edward J. Holland, MD, and Professor Shigeru Kinoshita, MD, PhD, spoke about advancements in endothelial cell injection therapy, explaining how a single donor cornea could potentially help over a thousand patients.