Published in Research

Advancing the understanding of geographic atrophy

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3 min read

In light of Vision Expo West (VEW) 2023, Glance’s Jackie Garlich, OD, FAAO, spoke with Mark Dunbar, OD, FAAO, on a sneak peek of his session, “Advancing the understanding of geographic atrophy.”

Editor’s note: The following interview has been edited for clarity.

Give us some background on your talk.

One of the hottest topics in the retina world today centers around geographic atrophy (GA).

Most people are aware that, even 6 months ago, we didn’t have any treatments for GA. And now we have two treatments:

  • Syfovre (pegcetacoplan)→ FDA approved in February 2023
  • Izervay (avacincaptad pegol intravitreal solution)→ FDA approved in August 2023

(Read here and here for the Glance coverage, respectively.)

So we’ve gone from GA being almost the red-headed step-child in macular degeneration to, really, being a hot topic.

We’ve got a lot of work to do in terms of educating both the MD and OD colleagues.

How does this compare to how GA has been treated in the past?

I think it’s a portion of macular degeneration that, I don’t want to say was ignored, but it’s just not something that clinicians have really been looking for.

We’ve been so focused on looking at the dry form of the disease and making sure they don’t convert to wet, that—now that we have treatments for GA—I think the focus is still certainly on that, but now a recognition of GA, earlier.

And highlights from your discussion?

We’ll talk about the two new FDA-approved drugs and their data, but also really a recognition of what we can do as primary care optometrists when we’re in the trenches—because we all [know] that we’re the ones who are going to be seeing these patients in our chairs.

So it’s not only identifying [GA], but also really getting these patients in to see a retina specialist for a potential treatment.

There’s a lot of work to be done in terms of education and recognition, as I said. Almost all of us [clinicans] have optical coherence tomography (OCT) now, so [it’s about] how do we use those OCTs the best way we can to see and identify GA.

To note, Rishi Singh, MD, will also be co-presenting this lecture.

Can you give us a few key takeaways?

The recognition of GA is more common than we’ve ever realized and partly because, as I said, we really haven’t been looking for it.

It'll be interesting over the next months to years to really see how common it is. [Patients with GA are] in our chairs, and we haven’t really been looking for it.

So that’s the key message: GA’s there; it’s sitting there, and we need to recognize it, get it seen, and sent over to our retinal colleagues.

VEW 2023 is being held September 27-30, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Venetian Convention & Expo Center.