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2023 from the ophthalmologist's chair: Top news from Ophthalmology Times


A look back at some of the biggest stories in ophthalmology in 2023.

ophthalmologist performs eye injection - Image credit: Adobe Stock / Kate

(Image credit: Adobe Stock / Kate)

Throughout the year, we have had the privilege of working alongside industry opinion leaders to showcase what’s new and what’s upcoming in the eye care industry. If 2023 has shown us anything, it is how much we have to look forward to in 2024 and beyond. From groundbreaking research to cutting-edge tech, there is plenty of reason for eye care professionals and their patients to be excited.

Advancements in ophthalmology: A comprehensive look at the FDA's 2023 approvals

It’s impossible to talk about 2023 without mentioning the jaw-dropping amount of FDA approvals. Twelve approvals rolled through the year, and the pipeline is set for more to come in 2024. The approvals for Apellis and Astellas’ geographic atrophy (GA) treatments took us from no FDA-approved GA treatments at the beginning of the year to 2.

On top of the approvals, complete response letters (CRL) were issued to several companies throughout the year as well, including Aldeyra who would receive 2 from the FDA in 2023.


Dry eye paradise: FDA green-lights Miebo as first and only eye drop approved for the condition

Speaking of FDA approvals, the spotlight was shone on Bausch + Lomb and Novaliq, with the approval of Miebo for the treatment of the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease (DED). As “the first and only FDA-approved treatment for DED that directly targets tear evaporation instead of tear formation,” Miebo was well received by experts in ophthalmology.

The cover story of our June issue featured the views from numerous opinion leaders in the field and their take on what the approval meant moving forward.


The tale of tainted eye drops

Even with the approvals coming from the FDA, artificial tears still had a rough year in 2023. The FDA was forced to crack down on unapproved eye drops after the CDC reported an outbreak of infections from tainted drops.

Infections were caused by a strain of carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa that produces the Verona integron-encoded metallo-β-lactamase (VIM) and the Guiana-Extended Spectrum-β-Lactamase (GES). Isolates are Pseudomonas aeruginosa sequence type (ST) 1203 and harbor blaVIM-80and blaGES-9, a combination not previously identified in the United States and were extremely drug resistant.

Numerous infections across the US resulted in 8 reported cases of vision loss, 4 cases of enucleation (surgical removal of eyeball), and 4 deaths.

Over the year the FDA issued warning letters to companies including Amazon, CVS Health, Target and more for the sale of unapproved ophthalmic drugs. Heightened concern has developed over what patients are putting in their eyes, and the marketing around these “unapproved drugs.”


Tribulations of TikTok trends

With the rise of unapproved eye products being used by patients in 2023, many turned to TikTok for medical advice as well. Which, shocking as it may be, did not end well.

Ophthalmologists had to come out and warn against the trend of putting castor oil in the eyes, a trend that started circulating on TikTok as a “home remedy” for vision problems. Once a jack-of-all-trades home remedy, used as a laxative, a moisturizer and even as a chest rub to ease lung congestion. Dozens of videos on TikTok, receiving millions of views, showed people rubbing castor oil over their eyelids, across their eyelashes and under their eyes to help treat issues like dryness, floaters, cataracts, poor vision, and even glaucoma.

Of course, this wasn’t the only trend to go viral this year. Beezin', a fad where people apply Burt’s Bees lip balm to their eyelids, was on the rise thanks to TikTok this year as well. Ophthalmologists warned viruses or bacteria from the lips could cause conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye. On a more serious level, it could cause infections and ulcers of the eye that could be difficult to treat and lead to permanent vision loss.


First case of recurrent multiple evanescent white dot syndrome (MEWDS) shown in woman following both COVID-19 vaccination and subsequent infection

The most viral story from Ophthalmology Times this year came from a study from New Zealand that found a woman diagnosed with multiple evanescent white dot syndrome (MEWDS) twice due to COVID-19 vaccination and subsequent infection.

MEWDS, first described in 1984, is an idiopathic inflammatory disease of the outer retina that is thought to be a transient, viral-induced autoimmune reaction and is associated with flu-like symptoms and has been reported following several different vaccinations

This marked the first case of recurrent MEWDS following both COVID-19 vaccination and subsequent infection.


Neda Shamie joins the team as co-chief medical editor

Lastly, 2023 saw the addition of Neda Shamie, MD, a cataract, refractive, and corneal surgeon and a partner at the Maloney-Shamie Vision Institute in Los Angeles, California, as the co–chief medical editor of Ophthalmology Times.

Now, Shamie is working alongside her mentor, Peter J. McDonnell, MD, of 25 years. In June, Shamie shared her first editorial in Ophthalmology Times about her journey and has since become an integral part of the Ophthalmology Times family.


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