Co-Founder-Chairman- Chief Medical Officer at Corneat Vision
We had a little chat with Gilad Litvin, MD at the 39th Congress of the ESCRS in Amsterdam. He was kind enough to answer our questions about the pandemic’s effect on the industry, and shared his expectations on remote cataract surgeries.
What is your major as an ophthalmologist?
Gilad Litvin, MD: I did a fellowship in the surgical retina. Today I practice only one day a week. Most of my time is invested in the conception and development of medical devices.
We, at Corneat Vision, have four products in different stages of development. Two of them are in clinical trials, and another two are in R&D. That’s where I invest 80% of my time currently.
Can you tell me a little more about these products?
We have an artificial cornea. Today, many people are in need of a transplant and have no access as there are numerous countries that don’t have any tissue banks.
In more developed countries there is a large segment of patients who either aren’t suitable candidates or have failed transplantation. If you are blind because of corneal disease you will most probably remain blind.
We are testing a completely synthetic, artificial solution just for that. We have additional solutions in ophthalmology and outside ophthalmology as well. These include a gingival reconstruction patch, a synthetic tissue substitute for glaucoma procedures and a glaucoma drainage device.
Thank you. Let’s talk about the ESCRS Congress. How do you feel about gathering here in a face-to-face format after 2 years?
First of all, I think the fact that everybody needs to show a vaccination card is very important and it makes me feel more secure.
It’s always much better to meet in-person, to have the hands-on feeling of whatever you are looking at, the people, the eye contact, all of that makes a big difference for us as human beings, not only as ophthalmologists exchanging knowledge and ideas.
I agree. Do you have any particular section in the congress that you are looking forward to?
I am mainly looking for meeting colleagues and updating them on where we are in the development process of our products.
In what ways do you think the pandemic has affected the industry?
Until the arrival of the vaccines the health systems around the world went into an emergency period, halting all non-essential activities. Our clinical trials stopped dead on their tracks for about nine months.
This delay, and additional factors like travel restrictions, made us improvise. To train our investigators in Toronto we collaborated with Alcon and Liveu and connected the surgical microscope in Toronto, at the Kensington Eye Institute with our Israeli office where I was able to monitor the procedure in 3 dimensions and with barely any latency.
This allowed me to guide the surgeons through the surgical steps with ease. 3 surgeons trained this way and felt confident to perform the procedure afterward on their patients.
So all in all, do you think the pandemic mostly benefited the ophthalmic field?
As I said before, we needed to learn and adapt. Now we have the possibility to teach surgeons all over the world even without traveling. I think it is something positive.
What are your expectations for remote cataract surgeries?
What we will see is robotic cataract surgery. The remote part is just to add on. First you have to have the robotic ability to make the procedure without the touch of anyone’s hands.
Now there are only phases in the procedure that a robot does do. For example, in Femtosecond Cataract Surgery the capsulorhexis, sectioning the lens, and corneal incisions are carried out by a computer that activates a laser in a certain pattern, which is sort of like a robot.
I think that throughout the next decade we will start seeing additional steps of cataract surgeries being performed by a robot, I believe with time a robot will take over and perform the complete procedure.
We, as physicians and scientists will still need to understand how to diagnose patients and better treat them, improving on current techniques and therapeutics.
As far as I know, there are devices that can detect diseases too, right? The industry is on a path to full-blown digitalization.
Yes, I agree. In the future when one will go to an emergency room he will be examined and diagnosed with various steps relying solely on machines, deciphering MRI scans, even administering treatment.
Who is Gilad Litvin?
Dr. Litvin is a graduate of The Hebrew University Medical School in Jerusalem. He completed his residency at the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba. He worked as a fellow for two years, specializing in retinal surgery, and completed three years of post-graduate studies in Ophthalmology at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel-Aviv University.
Dr. Litvin wrote his first patent in 2011 for an implantable device for the treatment of glaucoma and is the sole inventor of the CorNeat KPro and the CorNeat EverPatch. Since 2011, Dr. Litvin divides his time between practicing medicine and advancing his biomedical inventions, with the underlying goal of shifting his focus from time in the clinic to research, development and entrepreneurship.