By Hugo Hernan Ocampo, MD
Ophthalmology is one of the medical fields in healthcare that has developed and applied more technological advances in recent years, not only in Refractive Surgery which seeks to avoid the use of glasses or contact lenses, but also in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases that until recently were considered “untreatable” or “incurable”. In general, the diseases that affect the retina either by its own natural deterioration as Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is, or due to systemic diseases such as Diabetic Retinopathy were considered very difficult to manage up to ten years ago. Currently, there are therapies that although do not cure this damage, it can be effectively controlled, changing the quality of life of those who suffer these health problems.
Naturally, to develop these products, years of clinical research are needed in order to provide to the community safe and effective products. A clinical research has many phases. In its final phase, the involvement of many sponsoring institutions is required. With regard to this, the Clínica de Oftalmología de Cali has the INVIMA certification on Good Practices in Scientific Research. Currently, there are 8 research projects on our own in process and also in partnership with pharmaceutical companies. Likewise, the experimental medications have gone through “In Vitro” laboratory tests, then in animals and subsequently, in healthy volunteers to demonstrate to the competent authorities that the tested and developed product fulfills all requirements to be used by people without a risk. Once it has proven its effectiveness and the lack of collateral or undesired side effects, then it enters an application phase and it’s used in a larger group of people who suffer from the disease being treated. This is done in several countries simultaneously.
In order for an institution to be chosen for a “Phase-III-studies” accreditation, it is necessary to fulfill and comply with the strict requirements by the laboratories that develop the medications and by the national and international pharmaceutical-monitoring entities. Hence, it must rely on medical professionals in their working fields who have demonstrated an academic output in research work throughout the years. At the Clínica de Oftalmología de Cali, there are two active, supported and approved research groups that are involved and participate in clinical research for several years now: the “Visión Sana” Group and the CICOC Group. The latter has participated since 2006 in the final testing of the drug that is today known as “Eylia” (Aflibercept), for the treatment of various diseases of the Retina. Today, this research group is recruiting patients for a new drug to be used on the moisture-type, Age-Related Macular Degeneration that promises to yield even better results than current treatments do. Similarly, it is carrying out studies on diabetic patients with cataract, analyzing the relationship between depression and low vision, and it also has other projects in development with pharmaceutical companies.
A leading institution in the eye care field that guarantees a permanent commitment to scientific research and also meets the legal requirements and standards as required by the authorities responsible for monitoring these studies, allows the researchers and participating institutions to have a wide knowledge of current treatments, offering a better therapeutic perspective to the patients, resulting in better outcomes, and of course, the trust, comfort and peace of mind that patients and users alike would have when being in a trustworthy and reliable institution whose expertise is in managing their visual pathology.
Patients who are admitted to these studies are scheduled for follow-up medical consultations, their treatment is free of charge as well as all the tests required to see and monitor the evolution of such treatment. The research doctor is the person in charge of all these follow-up visits and monitoring which give patients reassurance and a greater level of trustworthiness.
Hugo Hernan Ocampo, MD
Ophthalmologist, Retina and Vitreous Specialist for Ocular and Cataract Trauma