2020 was a year of significant progress in the field of ophthalmology. From technological advances and new medications to developments in surgical procedures, there was much cause for optimism in the industry.
As world-leading experts in eye care, Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai is internationally renowned for its comprehensive clinical and research activities. Here in Dubai, Dr. Ammar Safar is a Medical Director of Moorfields Eye Hospitals UAE since 2018. A Professor of Ophthalmology at the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dr Safar is a highly-experienced consultant in vitreoretinal diseases and surgery. Here he gives his assessment on medical breakthroughs in his field in 2020 and anticipated advancements this year.
What were the key industry highlights in 2020?
2020 was an exciting year in terms of technological advancements and surgical techniques. Among the breakthroughs I found particularly significant were technological advancements in implantable intraocular lenses for cataract surgery as well as refractive lens extractions. In the field of vitreoretinal surgery and specifically involving large and chronic macular hole surgery, significant advancements were introduced to the original surgical technique.
In terms of medicines used to treat ocular diseases, there were important discussions around recently introduced medications for the management of exudative age-related macular degeneration. A new dry eye medication was also introduced and discussed by a panel of experts in the area.
Were there any medications and procedures in the testing phase that can we expect to see this year?
There are multiple medications in phase three trials that are currently being investigated and are expected to be approved in 2021 ahead of clinical use. This is mainly in the area of management of diabetic retinopathy, which is the effect of diabetes on the retina.
New medications are expected for the management of glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. In the area of the retina, there is a new procedure for the closure of large recurrent and chronic macular holes. This is considered a breakthrough in the area of vitreoretinal surgery.
New procedures are being performed for the management of glaucoma patients. Interestingly, these show excellent control of the disease with minimal surgery. The advantage of minimally invasive surgery is that it is a simple procedure done in the office as opposed to an operating room.
What significant advancements do you expect to see in 2021?
One of the major expected advances is the introduction of new medication that could be ground-breaking in the management of the most common cause of blindness, which is diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. This is especially important given the rising prevalence of diabetes in our region.