The Latest in Eye Health: Retinal Disease


  • Keeping current on eye health discoveries helps you provide relevant, current treatment for your patients. 
  • 2022 saw advancements in the use of stem cells and 3D printing for further ophthalmological studies. 
  • Several clinical trials in 2022 and 2023 show progress in treatments for AMD and other retinal conditions.

Staying current on the latest eye health research is vital to providing your patients with optimal care. 2022 saw several advances in vision health studies, including 3D eye tissue printing, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration. Get up to date on recent eye health news and upcoming clinical trials to help treat your patients in 2023.

Recent Advances in Eye Health Research

No matter your ophthalmological specialty, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the most recent vision health studies. The National Eye Institute (NIH) and the Fighting Blindness Foundation offer updated ophthalmology information regarding exciting discoveries in the eye health industry. The following reports, news, and study results contain the latest eye health information for optometrists.

Macular Degeneration News

On February 17, 2023, Apellis Pharmaceuticals announced that the FDA approved SYFOVRE™ (pegcetacoplan) for treating geographic atrophy, an advanced form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Phase 3 clinical trials found up to 36% reduction of lesion growth with monthly treatments. Apellis expects the medication to be available by early March.

Also in macular degeneration news is a preliminary study from Johns Hopkins Medicine. The published study found that 43% of patients with wet AMD treated with aflibercept (Eylea) could stop injections safely after one year, as opposed to only 15% of those treated with bevacizumab. The findings indicate that treating wet AMD with aflibercept may provide a more beneficial outcome for the retinal disease.

Technological Advancements for Eye Health

In January 2023, the NIH reported on a new development from the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW) regarding stem cell-grown retinal cells. The UW researchers successfully grew retinal cells from stem cells and found evidence that these cells can extend axons to existing neurons. The cells lose this ability after about 80 days, but the study has opened the door to new clinical trials on retinal stem cell growth in the future.

Technological advancements also include HIH research on 3D bioprinting to create eye tissue. The ability to print eye tissue is helping scientists gain insights into the blood-retinal barrier where AMD begins and to further research and treatments for blindness.

Retinal Disease Studies

Among retinal disease news are findings presented during the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) 2022 Annual Meeting.

Highlights from the event include:

  • Atsena Therapeutics made headway in Phase 1 of a gene therapy clinical trial, with ATSN-101 showing vision improvement in patients who received the highest dosage.
  • Iveric Bio reported the effectiveness of Zimura, a treatment for geographic atrophy, during a second phase 3 clinical trial. The company plans to file for FDA approval in the first quarter of 2023.
  • Janssen Pharmaceuticals reported data from a phase 1 clinical trial of single-intravitreal injection geographic atrophy treatments. The results showed that GA gene therapy was safe with a two-year follow-up and showed a continued reduction in lesion growth.

Diabetic Retinopathy Research

Several new studies have been published regarding diabetic retinopathy treatments. An NIH-supported study published in JAMA found surprising results about preventative anti-VEGF injections.

The study looked at aflibercept injections over four years and found that 34% of those receiving preventive treatment saw reduced disease progression compared to 57% in a control group; however, the treatments did not improve vision. This indicated that repeated injections might not be worth the risk for some patients.

Also in retinopathy news, researchers found that the ACE2 enzyme in the gut can help prevent diabetic blindness. A University of Alabama study on mice showed that when given Lactobacillus paracasei at the onset of diabetes, the treatment prevented the loss of ACE2, reducing gut barrier weakness and improving blood sugar levels. The study ultimately concluded that by maintaining ACE2 levels, those with type 1 diabetes could prevent or reverse diabetic retinopathy.

woman having an eye exam

Upcoming Clinical Trials

There are several upcoming clinical trials for retinal diseases that hold promise for improving vision outcomes in patients. These trials are investigating novel gene therapies and pharmacological treatments.

Belite Bio Phase III Trial: Tinlarebant for Stargardt Disease

This phase III study aims to investigate the efficacy and safety of Tinlarebant for adolescents with childhood-onset Stargardt disease, characterized by macula lesions. Participant allocation is randomized, with one group receiving Tinlarebant (5 mg tablet taken orally once a day) and another group receiving placebo tablets.

The primary outcome measure is the change in atrophic lesion size by fundus autofluorescence (FAF) photography from baseline. Secondary outcome measures include changes in retinal thickness and morphology, BCVA score, the plasma concentration of RBP4 levels, and assessment of systemic and ocular safety and tolerability of Tinlarebant.

Alderya Phase II Trial: ADX-2191 for Retinitis Pigmentosa

The Alderya clinical trial is an open-label, non-randomized, phase II study evaluating the safety and efficacy of ADX-2191 (methotrexate injection) in treating retinitis pigmentosa. The participants will be assigned to receive intravitreal injections of ADX-2191 (400 µg in 0.05 mL) every month for either three or six injections, evaluated for 16 weeks.

The primary objective is to assess the safety of ADX-2191. Secondary objectives include evaluating changes in visual acuity, central retinal sensitivity, dark-adapted retinal sensitivity, central subfield foveal thickness, and ellipsoid zone width.

MeiraGTx Phase I/II Trial: AAV-RPGR Gene Therapy for X-linked Retinitis Pigmentosa (XLRP)

MeiraGTx is conducting an ongoing phase 1/2 clinical trial of AAV-RPGR, a gene therapy created to treat X-linked retinitis pigmentosa (XLRP), which is caused by RPGR ORF15 gene mutations.

The trial includes adult and pediatric patients, and the results from the dose escalation phase of the trial demonstrated improvement in vision-guided mobility and retinal sensitivity at six, nine, and twelve months.

MeiraGTx expects to progress AAV-RPGR into the phase III Lumeos clinical trial. The FDA, ATMP, and PRIME have given AAV-RPGR Fast Track and Orphan Drug designations, while the EMA has designated the therapy as an Orphan Medicinal Product.

woman trying on glasses

Support Patient Eye Health  With RevolutionEHR

Staying current on optometry research and treatments helps you provide your patients with updated eye care procedures and medications.

RevolutionEHR optometry practice management software supports your practice with integrated functionality and automated features to help you do that. The cloud-based platform allows you to document quickly and efficiently to focus on patient care and communicate with patients about the newest treatments for their eye health.

Book a demo with a RevolutionEHR Specialist today to learn how our integrated optometry EHR system gives you the freedom to focus on giving your patients the best treatment possible.

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