ASCRS, Leading Professional Society of Cataract Surgeons, Supports Dropless Medication for Patients with Disabilities

Washington, DC — The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ASCRS), representing over 9,000 physicians, has recently issued a formal statement stressing the importance of dropless medication for cataract patients, especially those with disabilities.

In a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the physicians’ organization stated that its members “rely heavily” on the use of compounded drugs including dropless formulations for use after surgery.  The dropless medications are made in FDA-registered and inspected facilities that, the doctors noted, “have higher assurance of safety.” Dropless medications, the society emphasized, are “especially important for patients who have physical and mental disabilities and cannot administer drops.”

The society’s members perform the vast majority of cataract procedures in the United States.

The population requiring cataract surgery is heavily skewed to seniors, with many challenged by age-related conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia.  These disabilities can make it difficult or impossible for a patient to insert medication into his or her eyes multiple times each day for a period of weeks, which is typically required in order to prevent post-surgical inflammation and infection.

Disabilities including loss of hands or arms, Downs syndrome, learning disorders, PTSD, eye-related phobias, and various forms of mental illness can all interfere with a patient’s ability to use post-surgical drops. Among the patient populations most seriously affected are veterans, for whom age-related, injury-related, and mental disorders can all combine as challenges.

In 2013, President Barack Obama signed into law the Drug Quality and Security Act, which established higher quality and safety standards for drugs compounded in FDA-registered and inspected facilities according to the highest standards applicable to FDA-approved drugs.  ASCRS has urged the FDA to ensure that compounded drugs including dropless medications used after cataract surgery be produced in these high-quality facilities, in order to protect patients and ensure safety.

A copy of the ASCRS letter to the FDA is available here.