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AAO Highlights: Back (of the Eye) to the Future

Executive Summary

The 2009 meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology showcased the latest developments in cataract/refractive surgery, glaucoma, retina, and other ophthalmic subspecialties. The cataract/refractive surgery market has been under significant economic pressure recently due to a recessionary drop in elective ophthalmic procedures. However, evolving treatments for "back of the eye" conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy, are making significant inroads toward improved patient outcomes for these common and devastating diseases and continue to energize the retina products market.

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Four years following FDA approval, Lucentis remains the standard of care for the treatment of neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and has been widely adopted for off-label treatment of other retinal diseases. Companies are pursuing new drugs that may have more favorable dosing profiles, device-based technologies that may reduce the dosing frequency of Lucentis, and implantable drug delivery vehicles designed to deliver drugs to the back of the eye that may be applicable to a broad range of retinal therapies.

Devices Expand Their Role in Retinal Disease

Four years following FDA approval, Lucentis remains the standard of care for the treatment of neovascular (wet) age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and has been widely adopted for off-label treatment of other retinal diseases. Companies are pursuing new drugs that may have more favorable dosing profiles, device-based technologies that may reduce the dosing frequency of Lucentis, and implantable drug delivery vehicles designed to deliver drugs to the back of the eye that may be applicable to a broad range of retinal therapies.

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The mood was primarily upbeat at April's annual meeting of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. Most in attendance expected a modest rebound in procedure volumes for 2010. Highlights of the meeting included three new laser systems under development that promise to bring a new level of precision to cataract surgery, along with several next-gen surgical treatments for presbyopia.

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