Artificial Vision, Anti-VEGFs Focus of EURETINA Congress

Damian McNamara

September 02, 2016

COPENHAGEN — New trial results will help physicians assess whether patients with diabetic macular edema fare better when they are treated with intravitreal ranibizumab alone or when navigated laser photocoagulation is added to the regimen.

Another long-term study scheduled to be presented at the upcoming European Society of Retina Specialists 16th EURETINA Congress will determine whether a new biomarker can predict which people with intermediate age-related macular degeneration are "fast progressors."

Investigators are also assessing whether patient response to the first injection of intravitreal antivascular endothelial growth factor predicts long-term efficacy.

Although it is difficult to know in advance all the clinical controversies that will emerge during the congress, "I am sure issues such as the potential paradigm shift in the treatment of ischemic retinopathies — moving away from laser toward anti-VEGF injections only — will have its advocates as well as its doubters," said Jan van Meurs, MD, PhD, from the Rotterdam Eye Hospital, the Netherlands, who is incoming president of EURETINA.

Dr van Meurs said he is excited about the more than 400 "astonishingly rich and good-quality" free papers. "I myself am a vitreoretinal surgeon and more inclined to select those sessions, but the medical retina field is also very well represented."

He told Medscape Medical News he is also looking forward to hearing invited speakers at the ten main sessions that will enlist thought leaders to bring attendees up to date on clinical challenges, including neovascular age-related macular degeneration treatment, retinal disease imaging, the use of biomarkers, and the management of intraocular vascular tumors.

Nutrition and Genetics

The influence of nutrition and genetics on age-related macular degeneration will be examined during the keynote Kreissig Lecture, which will be delivered by Emily Chew, MD, from the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, Maryland. She will address the classic "nurture or nature" debate by presenting real clinical and epidemiologic research and discussing already promising treatments, Dr van Meurs explained. The topic is important, he added, because the prevalence of macular degeneration is increasing as the population ages.

During the keynote Gisbert Richard Lecture, Dr Richard will look at the promise and the limitations of sight restoration through artificial vision and stem cells. He has worked in both of the fields "that have the most immediate fascination of vitreoretinal surgeons," Dr van Meurs pointed out, which are artificial vision with the help of retina implants and restoring function by the insertion of engineered tissue layers or cells.

Whether or not changes in education and lifestyle can cure the global epidemic of myopia is one of two topics scheduled for the Amsterdam Retina Debate. The second debate will address whether or not the intravenous contrast-derived angiography technique should be abandoned, given the rapid deployment of optical coherence tomography angiography.

During the congress, intervention experts from around the globe will share tips and strategies on challenging cases. For practitioners who want to improve their surgical skills, courses will be offered on topics such as vitreoretinal surgery, complicated cataract surgery, and retinal detachment repair techniques.

On the third day of EURETINA, attendees will gather at dawn to run a 5K Retina Race around Copenhagen. Runners of all levels will be welcome, and proceeds will go to the sight-saving charity Orbis. In 2015, Orbis helped to train more than 30,000 clinicians and screened and examined the eye health of more than 2 million people around the world.

Physicians who attend the congress will gather the "clinical and related scientific information they need for years to come from world experts in the field, through formal lectures, courses, and training labs," Dr van Meurs said.

And the ample opportunities to meet colleagues in person make the congress more than worthwhile, he added.

Dr van Meurs has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

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