Pioneering Ophthalmologist Investigates a Specially Formulated Eye Drop That May Stop the Progression of Fuchs Dystrophy
The expansion of the NYU Langone Eye Center to several locations throughout New York City dovetailed with the recruitment of Kathryn A. Colby, MD, PhD, a renowned expert in the treatment of corneal and other ocular diseases. Dr. Colby joined NYU Langone Health as the Elisabeth J. Cohen, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. She was previously chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science at the University of Chicago where she was the Louis Block Professor.
Among Dr. Colby’s major contributions to the field of ophthalmology is the development of a minimally invasive procedure for Fuchs dystrophy, a progressive disease that can lead to blurry vision, light sensitivity, eye pain, and poor night vision. Fuchs dystrophy impacts about 4 percent of people over age 40, most of them women, and results in more corneal transplants in the United States than any other vision condition.
Dr. Colby is currently the only ophthalmologist in New York City who performs the procedure, called Descemet stripping only, or DSO. It involves the removal of a small section of dysfunctional endothelial tissue from the cornea, which allows healthy cells to regenerate and repopulate the area. The procedure eliminates the need for corneal transplant, which poses a risk of tissue rejection and necessitates drugs that suppress immune response to foreign tissue.
“ROCK inhibitors may prevent progression of Fuchs dystrophy early on and help patients avoid surgery.”
—Kathryn A. Colby, MD, PhD, the Elisabeth J. Cohen, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology
Building on her research, Dr. Colby now leads an international clinical trial, funded by Kowa Pharmaceuticals, to investigate the efficacy of specially formulated eyedrops containing a compound known as a ROCK inhibitor to help promote healing following DSO surgery.
“We’re already planning the definitive phase 3 trial, which sets the stage for FDA approval,” says Dr. Colby, who chairs the study and leads the only trial site in New York State. “These ROCK inhibitors may prevent progression of Fuchs dystrophy early on and help patients avoid surgery.”