What's in the pipeline?

May 1, 2006

Research, development, innovation and the quest for excellence go hand in hand with the evolution of the ophthalmology industry. With the new wave of phakic IOLs entering the market, each with its own unique offering and capabilities, it's hard to know which lenses will suit you and your patient best. Furthermore, does the introduction of these new refractive correctors threaten the position of the lasers that we have all come to grow to love? It seems that the laser refractive surgery industry is still going from strength to strength.

Research, development, innovation and the quest for excellence go hand in hand with the evolution of the ophthalmology industry. With the new wave of phakic IOLs entering the market, each with its own unique offering and capabilities, it's hard to know which lenses will suit you and your patient best. Furthermore, does the introduction of these new refractive correctors threaten the position of the lasers that we have all come to grow to love? It seems that the laser refractive surgery industry is still going from strength to strength. With the advent of new and improved laser systems, which not only carry with them enhanced imaging and diagnostic platforms, but the technological advances in laser development has created systems that provide better refractive outcomes and improved safety and efficiency. Even though surgeons across Europe are slowly adopting the use of phakic IOLs in their practice, there certainly remains a place for laser systems in the refractive surgery market mix.

On a separate note, you may have noticed that we have been paying particular attention to research and development in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) over recent months. I certainly do not feel that this topic can be exhausted at present. This is a disease that blinds millions of people each year, which, in the past, could only be treated by surgical intervention. Naturally, the fact that new, promising therapies are hitting our clinics is causing much excitement, as well as some controversy, amongst the AMD specialist community. The fact that a doctor will soon have an array of therapeutic options available to them for their AMD patients surely justifies this excitement.

Meanwhile, ocular implants as therapies, diagnostics and, surprisingly, as vision restoratives in blind patients, is the new craze in certain ophthalmic applications. Whether those that are currently in development will succeed in trials and be embraced by the community, remains to be seen, but the theory behind these new devices, as well as results yielded so far, seem promising.

Technolas Zyoptix 100 Hertz excimer laser – new developments ahead!

Developers: Bausch & Lomb
Commercial status: Marketed; launch of Zyoptix
Aspheric algorithm expected summer 2006
Contact details: One Bausch & Lomb Place, Rochester, NY 14604, USA
Tel: +1 585 338 6000 http://www.bausch.com/

Bausch & Lomb scientists have been working tirelessly over the last few years to address any issues relating to the traditional Zyoptix system and to create, what it believes to be the ultimate wavefront-guided system for refractive correction.

Armed with its secret weapon, Gerhard Youssefi, Bausch & Lomb Director of new technology programmes and an "Einstein" of the optical physics world, the company has created a system that has, thus far, yielded clinical data that, to date, is unmatched by any other laser system available.

Scheduled for launch this summer, Bausch & Lomb will be showcasing the improvements to the new system at this year's ESCRS meeting in London during September.

The Zyoptix system incorporates many new features that, collectively, lead to enhanced predictability, refractive outcomes, speed, simplicity and efficiency.

Here are just some of the things you can expect:

So where to next? According to the company, these improvements are just part of its journey to addressing the market's unmet needs and by no means signifies the end destination. These developments are certainly highly significant, with some of Europe's leading refractive surgeons, during a meeting in Munich at the end of March, agreeing that the improvements to the Zyoptix system have yielded outstanding, and unmatched, refractive outcomes. What will you think of it? Watch this space for further developments.

STAR S4 IR excimer laser system with CustomVue

Developers: Advanced Medical Optics
Commercial status: Marketed
Contact details: 1700 E. St. Andrew Place, Santa Ana, CA 92799-5162, USA
Tel: +1 714 247 8200 http://www.amo-inc.com/

The system has a number of features that contribute to the delivery of precision custom ablations. Iris registration is a fully automated, non-contact method of alignment for delivering the correct treatment to the corneal site. Variable spot scanning allows various beam sizes from as small as 0.65 mm up to 6.5 mm to be scanned over the treatment area, conserving tissue and optimizing treatment times. Active eye tracking captures all three dimensions of intraoperative eye movement without dilation and automatic centring locates and sets the treatment centre to the centre of the pupil.

Approval of the system was based on clinical studies, which demonstrated, at six months, patients receiving the CustomVue high myopia treatment were corrected to 20/40 or better and 84.3% were corrected to 20/20 or better, without the aid of spectacles or contact lenses.

EC-5000CXIII

Developers: Nidek
Commercial status: Marketed
Contact details: 34-14, Maehama,
Hiroishi-cho, Gamagori,
Aichi 443-0038, Japan
Tel: +81 533 676 611 http://www.nidek.com/

The new system received CE marking in September 2005.