Ophthalmology can 'adopt' technologies from other specialties

October 8, 2019

Patients can benefit as physicians take advantage of new treatment options 

Patients can benefit as physicians take advantage of new treatment options 

Many medical specialties share medications and technologies, from various classes of drugs to diagnostic testing and surgical instruments.

In ophthalmology, we tend to see ourselves as set apart from most specialties because of the unique needs and limitations of working with the eye. We’ve seen a few crossovers, particularly from aesthetics. Here are a few “adopted” technologies we’re happy to see in the hands of ophthalmologists.

IPL therapy 
IPL therapy has been used in aesthetics since the 1990s to improve skin texture and treat rosacea. First-generation platforms required tremendous expertise, but newer, sixth-generation technologies (Optima IPL with the OPT technology, Lumenis), coupled with corneal shields, have the safety profile needed to address the eyelid and adnexa.

Also by Dr. Periman: Treating chalazion with IPL therapy 

Dozens of peer-reviewed papers report the efficacy of IPL as an effective drug-free approach to treating ocular rosacea-associated and non-rosacea-associated meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and DED. This effect is thought to occur via multi-level impacts on the inflammation factors that drive both the MGD and DED components of ocular surface disease.

IPL has been shown to improve noninvasive tear breakup time more than five seconds over baseline, and 86% of patients report improved symptoms. With three or four IPL treatments, spaced two to five weeks apart, we observe reductions in MMP-9 levels and improved tear osmolarity. Patients then repeat IPL one or two times per year, depending on the severity of the underlying disease comorbidities.

Topical medications 
In recent years, we have seen several topical medications migrate both ways between aesthetics and ophthalmology. Few ophthalmic pharmaceuticals have transitioned into the aesthetic world like the topical drug, bimatoprost. Widely used for glaucoma, the drug’s side effect of increased eyelash growth led to its rebranding for aesthetic treatment of hypotrichiasis (Latisse, Allergan).

In addition to the aerodynamic impacts on evaporative dry eye from the abnormal eyelash lengthening effect associated with overuse, prostaglandins can also create lid margin redness, discoloration, dermatitis, and exacerbation of MGD. XAF5, a topical prostaglandin ointment by Topokine Therapeutics, is undergoing phase IIb/III trials to assess its efficacy in treating lower eyelid steatoblepharon.

Related: (PODCAST) Episode 8: It's time to add IPL therapy to your toolbox

Hyaluronic acid gel (HAG) fillers have been used in intraocular surgery for decades. The aesthetic uses of HAG products such as Juvederm (Allergan) and Restylane (Nestle Skin Health) are well known and offer a popular method of non-invasive facial rejuvenation.

However, more recently, the functional use of fillers to improve eyelid malposition or mid-face revolumization has shown promise. HAG has been found to be as efficacious as allograft dermal grafting or hard palate grafting to improve the position of the lower eyelids, as well as to improve and restore normal eyelid anatomy.

Ophthalmology, dermatology, and aesthetics benefit each other through shared medications and technologies. In the future, we anticipate seeing many more crossovers and “adopted” technologies used routinely in ophthalmology.

Read more content by Dr. Periman

Laura Periman, MDE: dryeyemaster@gmail.com
Dr. Periman is an ocular surface disease expert and director of Dry Eye Services and
Clinical Research in Seattle, WA.

Ami A. Shah, MDE: gotox@sfgotox.com
Dr. Shah is founder of SF Gotox, a Mobile Aesthetic Care Company in the Bay Area, CA.

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