EXTON, Pa.—Ophthalmologists in the U.S. called for education and increased cooperation between treating physicians and referrers in the treatment of geographic atrophy (GA), according to a survey conducted by Spherix Global Insights. The survey included responses from 131 U.S. ophthalmologists and 50 optometrists and followed up with eight qualitative interviews to assess the current and future treatment paradigm of GA. GA has long been considered an untreatable condition, with devastating consequences of disease progression (blindness and an inevitable loss of independence) well documented from the ophthalmology community.

Apellis has filed for FDA approval of pegcetacoplan, a targeted C3 therapy, for the treatment of GA with a current action date of Feb. 26, 2023. Iveric  intends to file for its investigational complement C5 inhibitor, avacincaptad pegol, with the FDA in Q1 of 2023—meaning two approved agents in GA may become a reality in the U.S. by the end of 2023.

While both treating and non-treating ophthalmologists believe there is a high unmet need for new treatment options in GA, optometrists are not as convinced (though they do see the importance of treating early), according to survey results. Additionally, optometrists are less likely than ophthalmologists to believe asymptomatic GA patients will be likely to receive intravitreal injection proactively.

In the qualitative interviews, injecting ophthalmologists elaborated that GA is a chronic condition that can progress slowly; however, that does not translate into the luxury to delay evaluation for treatment. Ophthalmologists suggest "empathy for what patients go through with GA" is going to be necessary for referrers to fully understand the appropriate treatment approach. Some respondents speculated that even the retina community will need time to fully understand how and when to treat these patients.