Colombian leading ophthalmologist and Interventional Concepts joined forces to develop an innovative medical device for cataract surgeries

Dr. Luis Escaf, Clínica Oftalmológica del Caribe (COFCA)

Dr. Luis Escaf, Clínica Oftalmológica del Caribe (COFCA)

Dr. Luis Escaf, Colombia's Clinica Oftalmológica del Caribe's founder and medical director, invented and patented a new medical device to prevent the eye damage that commonly occurs during cataract surgery and joined forces with Interventional Concepts to develop his technology. 

Miami, FL, USA, January 10, 2016: Clínica Oftalmológica del Caribe (COFCA), located in Barranquilla, Colombia, has received funding from Colombia's Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation (COLCIENCIAS) to develop an injection system of viscoelastic substances during cataract surgery invented and patented by Dr. Luis Escaf, its founder and medical director. Ophthalmology experts agree that the quality and number of corneal endothelial cells decrease after intraocular surgery, especially during cataract phacoemulsification. The good health of the eye's endothelium ensures that the cornea is transparent and healthy. If the cornea is not transparent after cataract surgery, the patient's vision is impaired, so specialists need to perform a corneal transplant or transplant corneal endothelium to the damaged eye. Dr. Luis Escaf's device prevents the damage to the eye during cataract surgery. The prototype is being developed by Interventional Concepts' bioengineering team in Miami, FL. The project will be led by Dr. Pedro Martinez-Clark, a Colombian-born physician with extensive medical device development track record in the US. 

According to the World Health Organization, cataract —opacificación of the eye's natural lens— is the leading worldwide cause for reversible blindness. Cataract is mainly caused by aging and cannot be prevented. However, cataract surgery and the insertion of an intraocular lens are very effective treatments that result in almost immediate vision rehabilitation. According to Market Scope, a market research firm, about 24 million annual cataract surgeries are performed worldwide, and the number is increasing 3.5% annually. This is due to the increasing aging of the population, especially in Europe and North America, and the population increasing access to healthcare. 

Scientific evidence has determined that intraocular surgery in the eye's anterior segment negatively affects the quality of endothelial cells and reduces their cell count. Cataract surgery with phacoemulsification is a type of eye surgery that affects the corneal endothelium and that uses ultrasonic energy waves to emulsify the cataract, however, ultrasonic waves also cause endothelial cell damage. A healthy cornea is transparent, has a stable number of endothelial cells and maintains the shape of the corneal endothelium. A non-transparent cornea compromises the patient's vision and will likely force the specialist to perform a corneal transplant or corneal endothelium transplant. A corneal transplant has many drawbacks and is best avoided.

Dr. Escaf's new system constantly injects viscoelastic fluid into the eye during cataract surgery, thus eliminating the damage caused by ultrasound on the endothelium, the loss of endothelial cells and corneal decompensation. This suggests that Dr. Escaf's new medical device has great potential for global commercialization since it makes intraocular cataract surgery more effective and with fewer complications as a treatment to prevent blindness.

Clínica Oftalmológica del Caribe (COFCA) is an ophthalmology reference center in Barranquilla, Colombia, South America. It has 30 years of experience in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of eye disease. It has seen over 800,000 patients for consultations, controls, and surgeries —it has performed over 80,000 eye surgeries of all kinds.

Interventional Concepts and COFCA have agreed to collaborate in the development of Dr. Escaf's device prototype with Interventional Concepts bioengineering capabilities in Miami, FL. The project leader is Dr. Pedro Martinez-Clark, a Colombian-born and Harvard-trained physician with ample experience in medical device development. Interventional Concepts aids medical innovators develop their technologies through their pre-clinical and clinical phases, and its mission is to bridge the medical innovation gap between rich countries and Latin America (with special focus in Colombia for human early-stage clinical trials).