Eye on Five – May Edition

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Burden of Eye Problems to Double By 2050
Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) Roski Eye Institute reported in JAMA Ophthalmology that the rates of visual impairment and blindness in the US are expected to double over the next 35 years. Their study found that by 2050, 16.4 million Americans over age 40 will have visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive error compared with 8.2 million in 2015. In the 40-plus age group, more than 2 million will be blind and 6.95 million will have visual impairment by 2050 compared with 1.02 million and 3.22 million, respectively, in 2015. (Varma R, et al. JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online May 19, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.1284)

Google Working on Accommodating Intraocular Device
Google has filed a patent application for an electronic, accommodating intraocular device, Discover blogger Jeremy Hsu reported. The application states, “Accommodation forces applied to the device and/or polymeric material via the lens capsule can cause a change in the optical power of the device and/or polymeric material.” The concept involves injecting a fluid into the lens capsule, positioning the device within the fluid, and solidifying the fluid to form a coupling between the lens capsule and device.

Acucela Trial in GA Misses Primary Endpoint
The Phase IIb/III clinical trial of Acucela’s emixustat failed to meet its primary endpoint in 508 patients with geographic atrophy secondary to age-related macular degeneration, the company announced. The Safety and Efficacy Assessment Treatment Trials of Emixustat (SEATTLE) trial showed no significant difference in the mean change of best-corrected visual acuity from baseline between treatment groups over 24 months. The study noted a small numerical treatment difference in patients with specific genetic profiles in favor of emixustat. Rates of adverse events were similar to early trials. “We are carefully reviewing the data in geographic atrophy before we decide on our next steps with emixustat in this indication,” Acucela chairman, president, and CEO Ryo Kubota, MD, PhD, said. Meanwhile, a pilot study of emixustat for the treatment of proliferative diabetic retinopathy is ongoing, and Acucela is also considering a study of the agent in Stargardt disease.

Allergan Gives More Responsibility to Bill Meury
As Allergan neared the conclusion of the divestiture of its generics business, CEO Brent Saunders had been contemplating how to streamline the company’s management structure. His decision: give Bill Meury, who had been executive vice president of branded pharma and oversees eye care, more work. Meury has taken on the title of chief commercial officer, Saunders revealed at an analysts’ conference call. Meury will oversee three Allergan business units: US specialized therapeutics, which includes eye care along with medical aesthetics, medical dermatology, and Botox therapeutic; US general medicine, which includes neurology, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, women’s health, anti-infectives, and urology; and the international business. See our OISTV interview with Bill Meury.

B+L, IBM Collaborate on App for Cataract Surgery
Bausch + Lomb and IBM announced they are collaborating on an iPhone and iPad app that aims to give cataract surgeons access to patient profile data and help them select intraocular lenses (IOLs). The app will be designed to electronically manage patient data across an iPhone or iPad and feed customized IOL options to surgeons while hosting health-related data on the IBM Cloud Platform, Bluemix. The MobileFirst for iOS team, which is part of IBM Global Business Services, will design and develop the app. The idea is to collect data over time to create a cognitive app that applies machine-based learning and predictive analytics to deliver real-time insights to surgeons, the companies said in a joint press release.

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