Dr. Grazia Pertile

You need a combination of good instruments, good instructions on how to take the most advantage from them and good people to interact with.

Dr. Grazia Pertile currently heads the Department of Ophthalmology, Sacrocuore Hospital, Negrar-Verona, in Italy.  She is one of the few surgeons in Europe who performs a surgical treatment in selected cases of exudative macular degeneration and uses two techniques: macular translocation and autologous choroidal graft transplantation. Grazia built her extensive experience in the treatment of severe retinal diseases at the Middelheim Hospital in Antwerp, Belgium. The department of Ophthalmology of this hospital represented an international referral centre for trauma cases, recurrent retinal detachment, retinopathy of prematurity and exudative macular degeneration.

Which instrument do you most value, and which features make this instrument so effective? 

The vertical scissors, because I can use these like a pick, like scissors, or like a manipulator, and it’s the only instrument that is a little bit curved that fits into the small gauge trocars. I like them a lot. They are adaptable in many different situations. 

What experience have you had of working directly with companies to develop new instruments and/or surgical techniques? What are the benefits and/or limitations of working directly with companies?

I have a little bit of experience. I was on the Advisory Board of one company for testing of their new instruments. From time to time, I contribute ideas for improvements or producing things better.  We are working on a research project on an artificial retina and they helped in producing some prototypes. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to have personalized instruments.

What do you expect to see developing in the future (e.g. the next 3-5 years) in VR surgery?

I think the real dream is to combine surgery – the technical part - with pharmacologic improvement, because I believe we are facing the limits of surgery itself. Instruments can be developed to make surgery easier or faster. For example, with good instrumentation and techniques in VR surgery, we almost always succeed in re-attaching a retina, but the functioning of the retina is often not always optimal after operations. So I think we really need to combine pharmacology, or even stem cell products and this kind of thing, together with good surgery.

What are your own priority focus areas for the next few years- either in research or clinical practice?

Our main research is on an artificial retina. We are developing an artificial retina based on the photovoltaic principle. That means that it works like photovoltaic cells. When the photoreceptors are damaged, and only the photoreceptors, not the remaining the retina, we try to put this photovoltaic polymer underneath the retina to substitute for the receptors, because it is able to capture the light and to transmit the impulse to the remaining network of cells inside the retina and to the brain. It is a very interesting project. We are also doing some clinical studies – We are doing quite a lot of operations for macular degeneration, choroidal transplantation or macular translocation. It’s interesting to see what happens a few years later after such an operation, and develop insight into the pathogenetic mechanisms. It is important to try to understand the reason why the disease developed so that we can advance therapies in the future. We are also studying a number of other clinical things – the results of a new technique for closure of macular holes in high myopic eyes, for example.

Do you think that Vitreq instrumentation will be valuable in your own work in the future?

Yes. I think so.

What do you envisage Vitreq’s role in the market to be?

I think the success of a company that supplies instrumentation for VR surgery depends on many different things. You need a combination of good instruments, good instructions on how they work and good people. Of course, the quality of the instruments, and the originality of the instruments, permits you to do something different, faster easier and more precise because your work with it, but in the psychological part is not less important. The people who supply the instruments are important too: how they are presented, the knowledge they have, the friendship even sometimes. I think a new company who develops instruments should take all these factors into consideration, not only the quality and the originality of the instruments. With a combination of all these things, you can be very successful.