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
Phelps said the most common retinal diseases that they
deal with at RVC are degenerative diseases to include macular
“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
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
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