Retina Society 2017 (Day 1): Overview and Retinal Degenerations

Jay Wang, MD
3rd Year Resident, Mass Eye and Ear

The Retina Society Annual Meeting in Boston kicked off on Thursday at the historic Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. The day began with a series of rapid-fire interesting and mystery case presentations given by many of the experts in our field, which was both entertaining and instructive. Afterwards, numerous video presentations demonstrating novel surgical techniques and unusual cases were showcased. It is always exciting to see different methods of approaching a difficult problem that are worth trying yourself.


The Scientific Program then formally began with a symposium on retinal vascular diseases with presentations on retinal vein occlusions, hemorrhagic occlusive retinal vasculopathy, sickle cell retinopathy, and new targets for inhibition of angiogenesis. Stay tuned for a dedicated post on this session.

This was followed by a session on retinal dystrophies and degenerations. Francesco Bandello characterized hyperreflective foci seen on OCT in Stargardt’s disease as a potentially useful biomarker which had a negative correlation with disease severity. Kent Small presented additional genetic mutations found in 12 additional families with the rare North Carolina Macular Dystrophy. We then heard an interesting talk by Ninel Gregori, who used OCT to characterize the retinal anatomy after Argus II implantation. Notably, retinal thickness increased following Argus II implantation, but whether this is due directly to a recovery of retinal function remains to be seen. In a similar vein, Alekandra Rachitskaya showed the utility of intraoperative OCT during Argus II implantation to ensure proper tacking of the device.


The session concluded with two outstanding basic science presentations. Through work done in mutant mice, Henry Kaplan posited the theory that cone dormancy in retinitis pigmentosa is due to loss of contact with rod outer segments, resulting in entrapment of glucose within RPE cells. If this holds true in humans, therapies targeting glucose levels in the subretinal space may have the potential to prevent or even restore loss of vision. Finally, Demetrios Vavvas showed beautiful work combining the fields of neuroprotection with photoreceptor transplantation in mice, increasing the efficacy and yield of photoreceptor transplantation by implementing pharmacologic neuroprotective strategies.

A reception at the historic Boston Public Library concluded a packed first day of the meeting. Many more presentations and poster sessions are still to come in the next few days!

Boston Public Library