A message from our Managing Director:
Last week I received a mystery package from my mum, who’s living in Australia and who I haven’t seen in well over a year due to the pandemic. When I opened it up, I was presented with the canvas in the image below. ‘What a lovely gift’ was my first thought, but as I mounted it on the wall in my office, I realised there was much deeper meaning behind it.
Firstly, the image is one I took on a residential trip during my first year of university. It is from the top of Pen-y-ghent, one of the Yorkshire three peaks. Looking back at this trip, I realise how lucky I was to be at university at all.
As a teenager, my heart was set on playing professional rugby, until two knee reconstructions (or a lack of talent) prevented me from securing a first team contract. Following this disappointment, I chose to attend university. My degree was paramount in in my getting my fist interview with a recruitment company and ultimately landed me the career I’m in today. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that job, but unluckily for that company I was hired by a much larger international recruitment agency and won an award for being the top newcomer. This success didn’t come easily. It took a year, and endless hours of failure and learning to achieve it.
It was that international #recruitment agency who first introduced me to the ophthalmology industry. A few years on and I am now running my own recruitment company Vision Executives. I was only able to start this company because my dad, and business partner, loaned me the money to start up. Perhaps he identified a bit of potential in me, particularly after the abysmal year 2020 had been for the recruitment industry.
As the first quarter of my business comes to a close, I can look back at how fantastic it has been and at some of the great candidates I have helped secure exciting new jobs for. Perhaps, like me, their potential would have been overlooked had Vision Executives not been there to help them.
Eventually everything comes full circle. I am currently planning which eyecare charity Vision Executives are going to raise money for this #WorldSightDay, coincidentally by climbing the three peaks which, of course, includes Pen-y-ghent, the mountain from the canvas. It is strange how everything works out in the end, but I think my mum may have just come up with our new company slogan: ‘Vision is the ability to see potential in what others overlook’.
Minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) devices and stents, which are designed to lower intraocular pressure (IOP), have dominated the field of glaucoma. However, a few companies have emerged onto the ever-growing glaucoma surgical device market who are taking a different approach to treatment.
Neuromodtronic GmbH have developed a device to prevent further optic nerve damage and restore vision loss using electrical stimulation. Eyetronic is advertised as the ‘the first treatment of glaucoma that can improve visual fields’ and uses gentle electrical pulses to stimulate the optic nerve. So far, 500 people have had the treatment, with no significant side effects. 32% of patients in a 2019 study of 72 people showed partial visual-field restoration, whilst ‘no further disease progression was observed’ after 12 months – Karl Schweitzer, CEO.
MicroOptx developed the Beacon Aqueaous Microshunt, aiming to target refractory glaucoma. However, there are hopes of treating normal-tension and primary angle-closure glaucoma in the future, according to Chris Pulling, CEO. Their device shunts aqueous humour from the anterior chamber to the surface of the eye.
BELKIN Vision (Belkin Laser ltd) has announced the results from their first-in-human trial using their one-second direct selective laser trabeculoplasty. Patients with open-angle glaucoma who received this treatment have seen a 27% reduction in IOP with no serious side effects.
As an alternative to MIGS, Sanoculis Ltd. are focussing on minimally invasive micro sclerostomy. A surgeon creates a sclerocorneal drainage channel to enable fluid control and reduce IOP in a procedure which lasts less than a minute. Nir Israeli, CEO, stated that 140 patients have received this treatment, with 53% reduction in IOP after six months.
Matilda Parente, CMO of ELT Sight has reported the long-term benefits of their ExTra Excimer Laser Trabeculostomy method. IOP was reduced by 38% after 5 years.
Ivantis, Inc are also hoping to see long-term benefits for their Hydrus Microstent, a MIGS device which recently received FDA approval for the treatment of mild to moderate primary open-angle glaucoma alongside cataract surgery. Global SPECTRUM’s patient registry included 900 patients with an average drop of 20% in IOP in those who had concurrent cataract surgery and 30% for those who received stand-alone microstent placement, showing consistent results after year 1, 2 and 3.
It is exciting to see how the glaucoma market is developing and we will be keeping an eye out for any future developments in this space.
World Site Day 2021 is less than 100 days away and Vision Executives want to raise money and awareness for eye care related charities. As such, WE WANT YOU to nominate your favourite eye care charities to feature in our upcoming article highlighting some of the great work done by these charities to support people suffering visual impairments around the world. In addition to this we are aiming to raise over £1000 for one of these charities by undertaking a gruelling physical event this World Sight Day (14th October).
PLEASE NOMINATE YOUR FAVOURITE EYECARE CHARITY ON OUR LINKED IN
While you’re here we also wanted to share the #LoveYourEyes from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). “Almost everyone on the planet will experience an eye health issue in their lifetime, yet more than a billion people worldwide do not have access to eye care services,” Peter Holland, CEO of IAPB. In September IAPB aim to get over 1 million people to pledge to get an eye test. Whilst the lack of eye care services is a global issue, getting people who have access to an eye test to book one is an excellent start.
Essilor Luxottica have recently purchased a share in a company which produces an eco-friendly material used in eyewear by Mazzucchelli – Acetate Renew. This new material is made by transforming plastic waste into primary molecules, in order to produce a raw material again. Essilor’s purchasing of a share is an interesting development, particularly following our LinkedIn poll regarding who has the most influence in making the eye wear sector more sustainable.
The resounding vote was that eyewear manufacturers have the most influence and Essilor Luxottica’s share in Mazzucchelli supports this. It seems, however, there are political implications of an eyewear company owning part of a material supply for the industry, which may prevent other eyewear companies using this renewable material. There are already many in the industry who believe that the merger of Essilor and Luxottica in 2017 (?) has given them a monopoly over the market as they can control supply of products from their manufacturer to the end user, owning a share of Acetate renew increases this monopoly.
Although he recognises the value of improving the sustainability of the eye care industry, James Conway, CEO of Millmead Optical Group said “we can’t really be seen to be supporting one of our competitors”, suggesting industry politics will play an important part in the sustainability of the industry.
Whilst our poll showed that most eyecare industry professionals said that eyewear manufacturers had the most influence in making the eyewear sector sustainable, industry politics appear to be preventing this from coming to fruition.
In the latest round of the Euro’s 2020, the Switzerland team were seen training in performance enhancing sunglasses made by the Japanese company, Visionup.
Visionup Stobe Glasses for Sport Vision Training aim to improve athletic performances by stimulating the brain. The battery powered training glasses cost around JP¥50,000. They have an adjustable shutter speed which impacts the brain’s processing speed and visual ability. The training glasses better the athletes’ performance as you can change the levels of site and visual skills, such as depth perception, peripheral vision and hand-eye coordination.
By stimulating the brain and training the eyeball muscles, Visionup aim to improve athletic performance, the company claim that their products can improve visual ability and performance by over 9%. Will that be enough to help the Swiss win the tournament?
The FDA have given the go-ahead for Roche’s eye implant application for the treatment of ‘wet’ age-related macular degeneration through their delivery of ranibizumab by Port Delivery System. It is a permanent refillable eye implant which will deliver continuous doses of ranibizumab to the eye, offering an alternative to monthly eye injections.
DME effects an estimated 30% of patients who have been inflicted with diabetes for more than 20 years. Alternative treatments on the market include Eylea by Bayer, Beovu by Novartis and Avastin (off-label). They all are vascular endothelial growth factor drugs for patients with DME which reduce the formation of abnormal blood vessels which will damage the retina.
It will be interesting to keep an eye on the development of this new treatment by Roche as it could become a blockbuster. Let me know in the comments you think this is the end for drugs like Eyelea?
Aurion Biotech have announced their CEO, Greg Kunst. Aurion is developing a platform of advanced therapies to treat ocular diseases, starting with a cell therapy to treat corneal endothelial disease.
Biogen have announced that their BIIB111 treatment (timrepigene emparvovec) for choroideremia has not met its 1-year target in correcting visual acuity. They are reviewing the data for their treatment before deciding on the next steps for their gene therapy program.
EyeYon Medical have received CE Mark for its EndoArt after clinical trails proved its safety and efficacy for treating chronic corneal edema. EndoArt the first synthetic implant that replaces the human endothelium that the human body can’t regenerate. “We are proud to receive CE mark for our unique EndoArt implant, which is set to transform the way patients with chronic corneal edema are treated,” Nahum Ferera, co-Founder and CEO of EyeYon Medical.
Implandata Ophthalmic Products announced that their EYEMATE-SC biosensor has received a CE Mark. This works alongside their EYEMATE system which allows glaucoma to be monitored and managed digitally and remotely. “Obtaining CE mark for our less invasive EYEMATE-SC sensor as part of our validated EYEMATE system is another important step forward for the company to transform glaucoma care,” Max G. Ostermeier, CEO and Founder of Implandata.
LENZ Therapeutics is developing a proprietary eye drop formulation of aceclidine. This month they debuted a $47 million Series A financing to move these eyedrops forward toward an NDA submission for the treatment of presbyopia.
Ref: https://eyewire.news/articles/implandatas-receives-ce-mark-for-the-eyemate-sc-biosensor-for-remote-glaucoma-care/ https://eyewire.news/articles/lenz-therapeutics-debuts-with-47-million-series-a-financing/ https://eyewire.news/articles/eyeyon-medical-receives-ce-mark-for-its-endoart-implant-to-treat-chronic-corneal-edema/ https://eyewire.news/articles/greg-kunst-appointed-ceo-of-aurion-biotech/
I recently stumbled across an article about Safilo’s premium sun lenses made out of a new sustainable material (40% biomass, with a 50% lower carbon footprint) and it got me thinking about the environmental impact of the eyewear industry.
I did some research and found out there’s a growing market for sustainable glasses frames – from bamboo, to recycled plastic – made by companies like Sea2see Eyewear, Pala Eyewear and SKRAP Skateboard Inc. Clearly consumers are caring more and more about the impact of their purchases and as such, many industries are under a lot of pressure to become more sustainable.
Judging by the amount of environmentally friendly eyewear options on the market, it seems that our industry is slow to catch up. It looks as though the eyewear sector needs to become more sustainable, so I created a poll on LinkedIn to see what you think: Who has the most influence to create change and help the sector become more sustainable?
The improvement of a patient, who's had retinitis pigmentosa (RP) for 40 years, has been reported in a phase 1/2 clinical trial of GenSight Biologics' mutation-agnostic gene therapy. The treatment introduces genetic instructions from algae to the surviving layer of retina at the back of the eye. At first, the patient only responded to amber light, but recently identified white lines on crosswalks and identified items when wearing goggles which detect changes in light intensity.
RP causes vision loss through the death of light sensing cells and affects more than 2 million people worldwide. Optogenetics therapy uses light to control the activity of brain cells to restore vision. “The findings provide proof-of-concept that using optogenetic therapy to partially restore vision is possible" Prof Botond Roska, University of Basel.
There are several promising approaches aimed at restoring light for RP patients. In 2017, Spark Therapeutics, Inc., now part of Roche, won FDA approval for their mutation-specific RP gene therapy, Luxturna. It is uncertain whether a mutation-specific approach can be used for all patients, as the disease can be caused by changes in over 70 genes.
Following on from the myopia news on ACUVUE Abiliti™ Overnight Therapeutic Lenses, the FDA have given Breakthrough Device designation to Essilor Group’s Stellest spectacle lens. This lens aims to correct myopia and slow down its development in children. Myopia found in children is at the most risk of developing into a more serious condition.
The first-year trial results showed that 9 out of 10 children who wore the Essilor Stellest lens had similar or slower eye growth than children without myopia. “The “Breakthrough Device” designation for our Essilor Stellest lens is a great achievement and an illustration of its potential in slowing down the progression of myopia in children. This designation represents an important milestone in our fight against the myopia pandemic,” Norbert Gorny, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Research & Development Officer of Essilor International
James Pickering is our Managing Director and an eye care recruitment expert who has developed an extensive client base and candidate network. He regularly writes articles about industry developments and has received numerous recommendations from industry leaders. You can also connect with James on LinkedIn to stay up to date on the latest eye care news.