New drugs and healthy habits, key to retinal diseases

The retina is the innermost layer of the eye. It is responsible for transforming the light it receives into a nerve impulse, which travels from the optic nerve to the brain, converting it into images. It is key to vision, so much so that if the central area (macula) is affected, the patient would not be able to perform everyday tasks such as reading, watching television or using a cell phone.

Healthy habits and check-ups are important in the prevention of retinal diseases.

Currently in Spain almost one million people have some visual impairment as a result of retinal diseases, and more than 70,000 are legally blind, according to data from the Report on Blindness in Spain, carried out by the Retinaplus+ Foundation. Among the most common conditions are:

  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Pathological myopia
  • Retinal detachment
  • Macular hole
  • Retinal venous occlusions.

Successful treatment of these diseases will depend on early diagnosis. This is the key to decide the most appropriate medical or surgical treatment in each case. Reducing the risk of suffering from these diseases, especially in cases of family history, will depend on maintaining a healthy lifestyle: a diet rich in antioxidants, avoiding smoking, protecting the vision from UV rays and regular exercise.

New drugs for retinal diseases

Ophthalmology specialists are currently immersed in the study of new drugs, which are already on the way, to treat retinal pathologies such as AMD, diabetic macular edema or macular edema due to retinal venous occlusion. It is a drug called Brolucizumab, which has been shown in different clinical trials to last longer than others currently in use. This would help to reduce the number of injections to be administered to the patient.

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Another drug that is in the research phase is OPTHEA-320. The aim is to improve its efficacy in combination with ranibizumab and, therefore, also the patient’s vision. It is a trial conducted jointly by national and international clinics in Europe, Israel and the USA, in which the Gómez-Ulla Ophthalmology Institute is also collaborating.

Non-contrast angiography and real color retinography: improvements in the diagnosis of retinal diseases.

New developments in retina also extend to diagnosis. Diagnostic imaging by means of Angio-OCT is the great ophthalmologic advance in the diagnosis and follow-up of retinal disorders. This avoids, in some cases, resorting to intravenous contrast injection, as was done until a few years ago.

Among its main advantages are that it is a non-invasive technique and that it allows high-definition images to be obtained, in addition to being in 3D.

However, technology is evolving very fast, so ultra-widefield real color retinography should also be mentioned. They are a state-of-the-art system that allows obtaining wide-field 200-degree fundus images, reaching all parts of the retina in order to generate images in a color similar to that seen during the clinical examination with ultra high definition.

It is therefore a revolution in the diagnosis of any pathology: it makes it possible to detect early signs of retinal diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, which can be difficult to see with fundus images that have less angle of view.