Avellino introduces new genetic test that can help prevent blindness post-surgery

July 20, 2013

Avellino Lab USA, developer of the only genetic test available worldwide for Avellino Corneal Dystrophy (ACD), announced the launch of its diagnostic lab and Avellino-GENE Detection System (AGDS) test in the U.S. this spring.

Avellino Lab USA is the first to create a genetic test for ACD, a disease that develops slowly in the eye causing cloudiness at the center of the corneas that could lead to impaired vision or blindness. Carriers of ACD are at an extreme risk of experiencing eventual blindness should they undergo vision correction surgery, such as LASIK, LASEK or PRK.

The test is important for optometrists co-managing and referring patients.

AOA member Laurel Jensen, O.D., is the clinical director at NVISION Laser Eye Centers, which is the first provider in the country to offer patients the AGDS test.

“We began using the test Feb. 7, 2013,” Dr. Jensen said. “We recommend the test prior to every LASIK or PRK surgery.”

The non-invasive AGDS test involves a simple mouth swab from the patient’s cheek. The sample is sent to Avellino Lab USA and within 24 to 48 hours, the results are provided to the doctor, with 100 percent accuracy. Based on a negative result, patients are able to proceed with the planned LASIK procedure with increased confidence.

Prior to undergoing refractive surgery such as LASIK, the AGDS test detects, with 100 percent accuracy, the ACD genetic mutation in which carriers are at an extremely high risk of experiencing eventual blindness as a result of vision-correction refractive surgery.

While there is no treatment for ACD, Avellino Lab USA’s AGDS Test is able to detect the presence of the ACD gene mutation allowing the patient to take precautionary steps to potentially postpone the progression of the condition. Specifically, with the test results in hand, patients and their physicians can make an informed decision on whether or not to proceed with vision correction surgery.

A rare genetic mutation, ACD is found in an estimated one out of every 870 individuals, according to published research.

“Since 2008, more than 330,000 individuals have been tested with the AGDS Test outside the U.S., as the standard of care in Korea and Japan, identifying 301 people as positive for the genetic mutation that causes ACD, protecting them from blindness,” said Scott Korney, chief operating officer of Avellino Lab USA. “By providing the AGDS Test to the ophthalmologist community here in the U.S., Avellino Lab USA is proud to help make eye correction surgery safer for the over 350,000 U.S. patients who undergo LASIK each year.”

Dr. Jensen noted that all of the 170 NVISION patients tested so far have been negative.

“It is important to identify those heterozygous individuals prior to having LASIK surgery,” she said. “I would recommend using this test for any patient considering LASIK.”

For more information, contact Avellino Lab USA Customer Service at 650-396-3741 or infousa@avellinolab.com.

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