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    Macular disease research highlights

    The latest research relevant to optometrists and other health professionals

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    Optometrist and MDFA Research Assistant Victoria Heaton discusses the latest research highlights from MDFA’s weekly research update.

    Having recently taken on the role of Research Assistant at MDFA, I have been preparing the weekly Research Update Newsletter each week. This includes highlights of macula-based research, reviews, and opinion pieces from respected international journals.

    As a practising optometrist, I’ve been asked to write about the most interesting and relevant articles I’ve come across in recent months that relates to optometry practice.

    Choosing one article is no mean feat. There are around seven to eight articles of research going into the newsletter each week, so I’ve chosen a few highlights that come to mind straight away.

    Intravitreal faricimab treatment

    Firstly, the results from the Phase III trial for intravitreal faricimab treatment for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) and diabetic macular oedema (DMO) potentially extending intravitreal injections to 16-week intervals could have great impact for our nAMD patients, lessening the current burden of 4-6-weekly injections.

    Access the excerpt: Efficacy, durability, and safety of intravitreal faricimab up to every 16 weeks for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (TENAYA and LUCERNE): two randomised, double-masked, phase 3, non-inferiority trials. Heier et al.

    Migraines and AMD

    A large study using the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database examined the possibility of migraines as a risk factor for AMD. The retrospective study showed a 20% higher risk of nAMD among migraine patients than control patients without migraine and the full article is well worth a read.

    Read the research: Association of neovascular age-related macular degeneration with migraine. Kuang et al.

    Retinal implants

    A little more futuristic (or is it?) is the latest review on retinal implants by renowned LA-based stem cell and bionic eye researcher Mark Humayun, detailing current visual and anatomical outcomes from retinal implants with one retinal implant, the Argus II, having been FDA approved.

    Access the excerpt: Advanced Retina Implants. Humayun et al.

    COVID and delayed treatment

    One of the most applicable articles as an optometrist is published in BMJ Open. The study examines the reduction in new nAMD referrals during the COVID-19 pandemic and estimates the impact of delayed treatment on visual outcomes. This is a UK study and pulls data from 27 NHS Trusts with a dataset of 20,825 nAMD eyes.

    This article struck a chord, reminding me that as optometrists we are seeing patients at risk of nAMD on a daily basis. We need to be up to date with knowledge on risk factors, current treatments and future treatments. But at our core, we must ensure best practice at diagnosing, managing and most importantly timely referral for AMD, in particular the more advanced neovascular AMD.

    Taking that extra time to explain and advise the importance of early referral for suspected nAMD is worth every minute.

    The BMJ article highlights a treatment delay of three months could lead to a 50 per cent increase in the number of eyes that are essentially legally blind (less than or equal to 6/60), reminding us that a missed diagnosis or a lost referral causing delay to treatment could be catastrophic to the patient’s vision.

    Read the research: Estimating excess visual loss from neovascular age-related macular degeneration in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic: a retrospective clinical audit and simulation model. Thomas et al.

    These are just a few of the compelling, quality research articles included in the weekly newsletter and being able to share this knowledge with patients brings great satisfaction from both sides.

    Posted: 29 April 2022

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