Top 5 Most-Read Ophthalmology Stories of 2021

The top 5 most-read ophthalmology articles of 2021 on AJMC.com evaluated the effectiveness of novel therapies in several ophthalmic diseases, racial/ethnic disparities in clinical trial participation, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on childhood nearsightedness.

The most-read ophthalmology articles on AJMC.com for 2021 addressed disparities in clinical trial participation, therapeutic management of several ophthalmic diseases, and how the increase in incidence of childhood myopia during the COVID-19 pandemic may signal a potential public health crisis.

Here are the 5 most-viewed ophthalmology pieces of 2021.

5. Investigators Identify Childhood Myopia as Potential Crisis During COVID-19

As the pandemic led to the closure of schools worldwide in 2020, researchers found significant increases in incidence of childhood myopia among Hong Kong schoolchildren that may signal a potential public health crisis. In also observing decreased time spent outside and longer screen time, they said their findings serve to warn eye care professionals, as well as policy makers, educators, and parents on the risk of myopia.

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4. Aflibercept Likely to Improve Severity, Complications of Nonproliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

According to findings of the PANORAMA randomized clinical trial, intravitreal injections of aflibercept were shown to significantly reduce the severity and likelihood of vision-threatening complications in patients with severe nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (DR) without diabetic macular edema. Aflibercept’s impact in year 1 and 2 of investigation could work to slow the progression and development of future complications in DR, which serves as the leading cause of blindness worldwide.

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3. Therapy Slows Diabetic Retinopathy but Vision Loss Benefit No Better Than Regular Care

Results of an ongoing 4-year analysis showed that early treatment with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) injections slowed the progression of DR after 2 years but did not significantly slow vision loss more effectively than standard treatment. Notably, the final findings will advise researchers on whether anti-VEGF drugs could serve as preventive treatments for DR, with substantially favorable differences in the rate of vision-threatening complications and rate of proliferative DR observed for those given aflibercept after 2 years vs the control group.

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2. Gene Therapy Associated With Vision Preservation in Retinal Disease

A clinical trial using mouse models indicated that gene therapy may aid in the prevention of vision loss or blindness from degenerative retinal injury and retinal disease. Using a gene therapy approach, researchers mutated an amino acid within an enzyme called calcium/calmodulin–dependent protein kinase II in the retinal ganglion cells. A 77% survival rate of retinal ganglion cells was shown after 12 months in the treated mice vs 8% among the population of control mice.

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1. Racial, Ethnic Disparities Seen in Ophthalmology Drug Trials, Study Says

Trends in US racial distribution of clinical trials for ophthalmology drug approvals from 2000 to 2020 showed an underrepresentation of Black and Hispanic individuals. Although some of these trends began to narrow toward the later years of the study, ratios are expected to worsen by 2050, in which White participants remain increasingly overrepresented compared with Black and Hispanic counterparts. Black individuals were cited to be disproportionately affected by surgically treatable or preventable causes of blindness, such as cataract, glaucoma, and DR.

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