Business Times of Edmond, Oklahoma February 2020 - Page 19

Dr. Brian Phelps is working with his patient, Viola McClure, on her eye care. by providing medical and surgical vitreoretinal services to the largest ophthalmology residency program in the country. Phelps is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. He actively pursues his research interests as an investigator in national clinical trials on-going at RVC. He offers a wide range of medical and surgical retinal services including the most current intraocular pharmacotherapy and small gauge sutureless vitrectomy. Phelps tells his patients to think of the human eye as a highly sophisticated camera. “The eye is like a camera,” he said. “The lenses of the eye such as cataracts and corneas can be replaced. You can think of the retina as the irreplaceable camera film. It is the thin red layer that lines the back of the eye. It actually derives from very delicate brain tissue during development. Visual information is transferred from the retina through the optic nerve and to the brain.” Phelps said the most common retinal diseases that they deal with at RVC are degenerative diseases to include macular degeneration. “Macular degeneration has two forms commonly referred to as wet and dry types. The dry form has no treatment and can cause irreversible vision loss very slowly,” he said. “The wet form is treatable if diagnosed early. It is a more rapidly progressing condition where abnormal blood vessels begin to grow below the central retina to cause blindness. The treatment includes injecting medicine directly into the eye in order to restore and preserve vision.” Phelps said the problem with our current wet macular degeneration treatment is that it is not durable. “We have treatment, but there is no cure,” he said. “As a result, many of our patients are having to return between once- a-month to once every three months for routine injections in order to maintain their eyesight.” Last year, Phelps performed the state’s first surgery to implant a new device to fight wet macular degeneration.  Macular degeneration is the leading cause of central blindness in patients over the age of 65. Fifteen percent of such patients suffer from wet macular degeneration. Currently, this is an eye condition that has no cure and often requires monthly eye injections in order to preserve the patient’s eyesight for the remainder of their life. This new surgical device could both reduce the amount of injections patients are subjected to, as well as help avoid the condition from being undertreated with the result of irreversible blindness.  Phelps conducted the first surgery in Oklahoma to implant the device with the support of Oklahoma City’s Summit Medical Center. This port placement procedure involves implanting a port delivery system into the eye. Once inside the eye, it releases a drug used to treat wet macular degeneration.  The port delivery system is manufactured by the prominent biotechnology company, Genentech. Two big advantages of the state-of-the-art implant are that it’s refillable and it releases the drug over the course of several months to help treat the condition. The hope is that this new procedure and device, if approved by the FDA, will revolutionize how retina surgeons treat degenerative retinal conditions of the eye.  “This device has the potential to make a tremendous, positive impact in the lives of our patients and their family members who bring them to their frequent appointments,” Phelps, the trial’s principal investigator, said. While an operating room is required for the initial surgery, once the system is implanted, it can be refilled in the comfort of the doctor’s office as needed. Phase 2 of this clinical trial showed a majority of patients could go six months or longer before needing a refill.  The operation is one of multiple Phase 3 clinical trials offered by Retina Vitreous Center (RVC Retina). The center, along with its elite team of physicians and medical staff, has been focused on providing Oklahomans access to innovative eye treatments for years through clinical trials and specialized procedures.  Dr. Sandeep Shah, RVC ophthalmologist, vitreoretinal surgeon, and sub-investigator for the port delivery system, said advancements like these are key to remaining at the forefront of patient care and they are excited to be able to offer patients multiple novel approaches to treating sight-threatening diseases.   “Our commitment at RVC is to provide up to date evidence- based medical and surgical care in diagnosing and treating retinal conditions with a clinical and research team committed to providing the best possible experience,” Shah said.  Phelps added, “We select our trials based on what we think is best for patients. Our field of medicine continues to grow as we develop new ways to treat diseases that were previously untreatable. We are seeing far fewer people go blind from retinal diseases today and we look forward to contributing to future advancements through our research.” For more information call 405-607-6699 or visit www.rvcoklahoma.com. February 2020 | The Business Times 19