Retinal specialists have the firm conviction that gene therapy treatments will become a significant part of their practice in the near future, yet at the same time most of them admit that they know very little about the subject.
That was just one of the interesting nuggets of information revealed in the 2020 EURETINA AMD and DME Clinical Trends Survey, discussed by Anat Loewenstein, General Secretary of EURETINA, during the EURETINA Virtual Congress 2021.
“The survey reveals a lot of interesting information about the way we approach treatments, manage our patients and how we anticipate the evolution of our profession,” said Dr Loewenstein. “There is no doubt that gene therapy is going to play an increasing role in the future, with 81% of respondents saying that they believe gene therapy will become a significant part of their practice in the future. However, there is a clear gap in our understanding of what gene therapy entails, as almost 77% of respondents said that they have moderate, little or no understanding of gene therapy.”
The 2020 survey, carried out in autumn 2020 in conjunction with the EURETINA Virtual Congress, was the fourth edition of the survey and included 65 questions and had 675 respondents, explained Dr Loewenstein.
“The survey questions examined several areas of clinical practice, including diagnosis of retinal disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic macular edema (DME), and gene therapy. The questions, which were developed and reviewed with the EURETINA leadership and substantiated by a data scientist, are designed to help us better identify the educational needs of our members and respond to their needs,” she said.
In terms of patient adherence to their AMD treatments, Dr Loewenstein pinpointed the survey’s findings that 63% of patients who require regular anti-VEGF injections are adherent with their treatment timeframes.
“This is quite high and shows that we are getting the message across to patients of how important it is to respect their treatment protocols and keep their appointments for the successful management of their disease,” she said.
Not surprisingly, there was a consensus from most respondents concerning the largest unmet need for current anti-VEGF treatments, said Dr Loewenstein.
“The overwhelming majority mentioned the treatment burden of intravitreal injections and the desire for an extended duration of action of our current treatments. The preferred duration of effect for a sustained drug delivery implant when it becomes available was between 6 to 12 months, so we clearly still want to see our patients to monitor their progress,” she said.”
The survey also revealed some interesting perceptions of the importance of new imaging technologies in clinical practice. Most respondents felt that optical coherence angiography (OCT-A) was a valuable asset and that they would, or already are, using the technology in their practice. However, around one quarter of respondents said they were keen to see more data before deciding to use the technique routinely.
Dr Loewenstein said that the 2021 survey is now available online at https://euretina2021.questionpro.com and she urged members to respond before 15 October 2021.
“We count on your support and participation. It only takes about 15 minutes to answer the questions and all survey participants will be entered into a raffle to win 1 of 4 free delegate registrations for the 2022 EURETINA Congress,” she said.
The 2020 survey outcomes are available on the EURETINA e-platform including infographics and leadership perspectives on the key topics covered in the survey.