The research program leverages emerging laser-assisted technologies a) to improve the safety and efficacy of eye surgical interventions, and b) to address the current demand for improved intraocular drug delivery approaches.
Manipulation of intra-ocular surgical tools during vitreoretinal surgery can become extremely challenging during certain high-risk maneuvers, potentially resulting in sight-threatening complications such as iatrogenic retinal breaks. We have developed a novel technology for intra-operative guidance of pars plana vitrectomy (PPV), a frequent vitreoretinal surgery involving removal of the vitreous gel from the eye and repair of the retina. The technology aims to improve the efficacy and safety of the surgery by enhancing surgeon's ability to manipulate surgical instrumentation inside the eye. In the framework of the proposed research program, we will validate the technology with a pre-clinical study (pig-model). Around 70,000 Canadians undergo PPV each year. Reducing or perhaps even eliminating the occurrence of iatrogenic breaks which occur in around 10% of cases has the potential to impact thousands of patients.
Intraocular injection of drugs is increasingly used for the treatment of many eye diseases, including wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Current limitations of existing intraocular drug delivery systems, include the incidence of endophthalmitis and the limited accessibility to hard-to-access ocular layers such as the subretinal and suprachoroidal space. In this framework, we have focused our research on the development and in-vivo validation (pig model) of two laser-assisted drug delivery systems, aiming to improve intraocular drug administration. We anticipate that these systems would enable better time and cost management of major eye diseases, such as AMD, by reducing post-injection complications, standardizing the drug injection procedure, and facilitating targeted delivery of novel gene therapies.