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AAOpt 2023: What optometrists needs to know about geographic atrophy


Steven Ferrucci, OD, FAAO, discusses imaging techniques and treatment options for geographic atrophy as part of his AAOpt presentation alongside Carolyn Majcher, OD, FAAO.

At the 2023 American Academy of Optometry (AAOpt) Meeting, Steven Ferrucci, OD, FAAO, and Carolyn Majcher, OD, FAAO, presented a lecture entitled, "Imaging Techniques and Emerging Therapies for Geographic Atrophy." Ferrucci sat down to discuss key takeaways from the lecture.

Video transcript

Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Kassi Jackson, Editor:
Hi, everyone. I'm sitting down with Dr. Steven Ferrucci to talk about his presentation on "Imaging Techniques and Emerging Therapies for Geographic Atrophy," which he co-presented with Dr. Carolyn Majcher at the American Academy of Optometry this year in New Orleans. Welcome, Dr. Ferrucci.

Steven Ferrucci, OD, FAAO:
Hi Kassi. Thanks. Thanks for having me,

Of course. So can you please share with us an overview of your presentation?

As many of you know, there's been 2 new drugs recently FDA approved for the treatment of geographic atrophy. One made by Apellis called Syfovre and another one made by Iveric Bio called Izervay. So we talked about those a little bit in our lecture today.

Really, you know, the the main point that we talked about is now that we have these therapies for geographic atrophy, it's really important as optometrists to be able to recognize patients with geographic atrophy, diagnose patients with geographic atrophy, and then refer those patients who might be good potential treatment patients over to the retinal specialists to at least consider treatment.

Wonderful. So what do you hope clinicians took away from this talk today?

Yeah, I hope that they really learned how to appreciate GA, we talked about multimodal imaging and how you can really find GA in your practice. And, you know, one of the points is that these are patients in the optometric practice, these patients have not been sent over the retinal specialists yet, because there was no treatment. So they're already in our offices. We've been seeing them. And now we have to do a better job recognizing geographic atrophy.

So we talked about multimodal imaging, and how you can find these patients through OCT, color photos, and fundus autofluorescence. Of the 3, OCT is probably the gold standard. And when you do an OCT, you kind of look for hyper transmission defects where the OCT penetrates more in the geographic atrophy area due to loss of the RPE. Color photos are also useful, perhaps not as useful as OCT, but more ubiquitous. So we spoke about that as well.

And kind of building off of that, looking at the patient care side of things. What does this mean for patient care?

Yeah, it's exciting. It's an exciting time, because this is the first time we have anything to offer our patients with geographic atrophy. And another thing we spoke about is that a lot of us think that geographic atrophy is a slowly progressive disease. But the recent natural history studies show us that that's not necessarily the case. And it may progress a little bit quicker than we anticipated. So we discussed that as well. But the real issue is, you know, now that we have this treatment, it's exciting, because now we can do something for patients with geographic atrophy, rather than just sitting by and watching their vision get worse and worse and worse.

Is there anything else you'd like to discuss about what you guys hit on today?

No, just that it really is important, you know, in my mind to start to identify these patients with geographic atrophy, talk to patients with geographic atrophy, see if they're a good candidate for this treatment, and if so refer them over the retinal specialists to at least consider treatment.

Wonderful. Well, Dr. Ferrucci, thank you so much for your time today.

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