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    Laser advances take retina specialty to new levels of treatment, care

    Artificial retina, genetic engineering, stem cell therapies also generate interest

    Take-home message: Developments in lasers, along with genetic engineering, are showing promise as technologies are may shape the future of retina treatment.

     

    Innovation in laser treatment was tapped as one of the most exciting developments for the specialty of retina in 2014.

    “Although lasers are now used less often to treat diabetic macular edema and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there are some developments that are ongoing in laser technology that may redefine how we view laser treatment,” said Pravin U. Dugel, MD.

    Some new laser technology may be so precise as to preclude destruction of photoreceptor cells but only stimulate retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. There is also technology, such as the Navilas Laser System from OD-OS GmbH, that has superb registration and navigation capabilities, said Dr. Dugel, managing partner, Retinal Consultants of Arizona, Phoenix and clinical professor of ophthalmology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

    More in this issue:  Instrumentation, imaging advances make retina surgery safer

    Though laser treatment is not a thing of the past, Dr. Dugel believes the traditional way of performing laser procedures—i.e., simple destruction of tissue based on what can be seen—may be phasing out.

    “In the near future, we will have extraordinary precision and navigation capabilities in our abilities to deliver very precise laser beams not to destroy tissue but possibly to stimulate RPE cells in specific areas of tissue to regenerate layers of retinal cells,” he said.

    Genetic engineering 

    Both Dr. Dugel and Michael Ip, MD, associate professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, are impressed with new gene-based therapies.

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