At the largest international research conference in the field of ophthalmology, organized by the Association for Research on Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Honolulu this year, the concept of a home-care OCT was selected as one of five particularly interesting projects out of more than 6000 presentations and presented to the international public (ARVO press release) (Healio press release).
Within the research cooperation „Monitoring von Retinatherapien @ home“ (RETOME) funded by the BMBF in the research framework “Photonik Forschung Deutschland”, a functional demonstrator was realized by the Medical Laser Center Lübeck and evaluated at the Clinic for Ophthalmology of the University Hospital Campus Kiel within a clinical trial. The first results were presented to an international audience at the ARVO by the ophthalmologist Dr. Claus von der Burchard.
Because of this first, very encouraging clinical data, Dr. Claus von der Burchard was invited to a press conference moderated by the ARVO President and transmitted live worldwide via the internet. A recording of the press conference can be found here.
In the future, the device is to be further developed for the home-care sector in order to improve the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and to reduce the costs of treatment by regular monitoring by the patient at home. The newly developed and patented optical coherence tomography (OCT) technology at MLL has the potential to reduce the cost of such devices from a few € 10,000 to a few € 1,000. For the first time there is a realistic chance to realize a complete control of the course of the disease at home.
AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. Although its most aggressive variant, wet AMD, can be effectively treated by injecting a drug regularly (about € 1,500 per injection) into the eyeball, injections are usually too early or too late. Therefore, it is either over-treated with unnecessary costs and burdens on the patient. Or it is under-treated and an avoidable loss of vision arises. OCT can determine the optimal time for an injection, but so far because of the equipment costs and the complex handling it is only applicable for ophthalmologist. The system developed by the Medical Laser Center Lübeck in cooperation with the working group of PD Dr. Gereon Hüttmann from the Institute of Biomedical Optics (BMO) of the University of Lübeck and the Clinic for Ophthalmology Campus Kiel could in future be operated by the patient himself at home. The data from the regular measurements could be sent to the attending physician or a central data center for analysis via the Internet. If there is a worsening of the disease, the doctor can act immediately. A targeted successful implementation in a home-care OCT device can revolutionize the treatment of AMD.