It’s that time of the year again when I reflect on such an exciting and dynamic year in ophthalmology! Here are my top 5 most significant stories in ophthalmology for 2018:
1) Innovations in the treatment of retinal diseases soars to new heights
As the prevalence of exudative age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD), retinal vein occlusion (RVO), and diabetic macular edema (DME) continues to climb worldwide, the ophthalmological industry has responded with amazing innovation in drug R&D, drug delivery systems, and new approved indications.
Here are the main highlights:
2) Artificial Intelligence (AI) has arrived and is here to stay
Described in one of my previous articles as one of the 5 greatest ophthalmic innovations of the 21st century, telemedicine represents a new frontier of our field focusing on two main principles: prevention and early disease detection.
While I believe artificial intelligence will never replace doctors, I do believe AI will have a significant role in medicine now and in the future. Leading the way, the ForeseeHome (FSH) technology created by Notal Vision is the flagship telemedicine AI technological device in ophthalmology today and has become the new standard of care in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) monitoring.
Notal recently announced that the FDA has granted breakthrough device designation for its pioneering patient-operated Home Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) System. This device could revolutionize the way retinal specialists manage wet AMD.
In addition, IDx-DR is approved for use of autonomous detection of diabetic retinopathy in diabetic patients utilizing the Topcon NW400 fundus camera.
Finally, Tilak has created Odysight, a mobile application medical game dedicated to the monitoring of patients with chronic eye diseases. AI is being incorporated into the medical field and specifically ophthalmology at a rapid rate and is having a significant benefit to both patients and healthcare professionals.
3) American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) delivers excellent updates to the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) process for Board Certification
Under the incredible leadership of Dr. George Bartley and his team, the ABO has developed impressive new initiatives to improve the board certification process and MOC. Here are just a few highlights of recent note:
4) American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) unveils plans to build new Museum of Vision
Announced recently at the AAO 2018 Annual Meeting, the American Academy of Ophthalmology unveiled plans to construct the world’s first public museum dedicated to vision and eye health. The Museum of Vision will be located in San Francisco.
This free, public museum and education center will introduce the world to the science of sight and to the field of ophthalmology dedicated to protecting it. It will be the only publicly accessible, comprehensive collection of ophthalmic artifacts on permanent display in the United States.
The Academy is undertaking this effort to highlight the rich history of medical and surgical eye care and to help people understand their own eye health. The opening of a museum in San Francisco enables the Academy to showcase its collection of more than 38,000 artifacts, books, and instruments. These treasures have been collected for more than 30 years as the Museum of Vision, but opportunities to view them are limited to a yearly exhibit at the Academy’s annual conference.
Some of the collection can be also viewed by appointment at the Academy’s headquarters, located in San Francisco. The Academy hopes that bringing its extensive collection out in the open for the public to experience will help people understand their own eye health and what ophthalmologists do to protect their sight, inspiring the next generation of eye physicians and surgeons.
5) Healthcare law reform has started to take shape
Rounding out my top 5 stories is a compilation of small changes to existing healthcare regulations.
While complete healthcare reform has taken a backseat to other legislative priorities, there have been some minor changes in healthcare in 2018. While it remains to be seen if complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or continued modifications/adjustments to existing healthcare law will be the path forward, President Trump and Congress continue to work diligently on a broad solution for healthcare reform.
There were some notable changes this year including repealing the ACA individual mandate and allowing Medicare Advantage plans to use step therapy for Part B drugs beginning January 1, 2019.
Ultimately, it will take the efforts of all of us as Americans with different backgrounds and skills to solve this issue. I also have some ideas on how to develop our healthcare policy that will be satisfactory to all sides-patients, physicians, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and our government. So, if President Trump or any of our politicians from Congress are reading this article, feel free to call me.
That being said, we must have stabilization of the United States healthcare system in order to allow all of us as physicians/ophthalmologists to continue to provide the best healthcare delivery for our patients.
2018 was definitely a year to remember in the history of ophthalmology and provides momentum to an exciting 2019. I look forward to keeping you updated throughout 2019 and beyond!
Joshua Mali, MD, is a board certified ophthalmologist and award-winning vitreoretinal surgeon at The Eye Associates, a private multispecialty ophthalmology practice in Sarasota, Florida. He can be reached at 941-923-2020 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Mali’s relevant financial disclosures include the following: Regeneron (consultant, speaker, stock shareholder, research funding), Genentech/Roche (consultant, speaker), Notal Vision Inc. (consultant, speaker), Alimera Sciences (consultant, speaker, stock shareholder), Allergan (consultant, research funding), Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Inc. (consultant, speaker), Medical Director of Macular Degeneration Association (consultant, speaker), and Founder & CEO of Mali Enterprises.
1. Mali, Joshua and Mali, Yasmin. What ophthalmologists are thankful for: The 5 greatest ophthalmic innovations of the 21st century. Ophthalmology Times. November 24, 2016.
2. Mali, Joshua. Dr. Mali's top 5 predictions in ophthalmology for 2017. Ophthalmology Times. December 24, 2016.
4. McGowan, Meghan. American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO). Email correspondence. November 9, 2018.
5. Genentech Press Release. New Stairway study data shows potential for extended durability with Faricimab in wet AMD. October 27, 2018.
6. Novartis Press Release. https://www.novartis.com/news/media-releases/two-year-data-novartis-brolucizumab-reaffirm-superiority-versus-aflibercept-reducing-retinal-fluid-patients-namd