1. What is your greatest motivator to participate in the field of ocular research?
A major source of my motivation is identifying a bridge between the professions of ophthalmology and optometry and contributing toward their enrichment. This involves (1) fusing my interest in optics with the demands of cataract and refractive surgery, (2) conducting basic research and helping to apply the results to clinical trials, and (3) developing interdisciplinary approaches to conducting these trials and classifying results accordingly.
The atmosphere of innovation that is apparent in cataract and refractive surgery and, in general, in all of ophthalmology is exciting. In our department, led by my mentor, Thomas Kohnen, MD, PhD, FEBO, we are at the forefront in many areas of ocular research, and ethical considerations are central to our work.
I work with a great research team in Frankfurt, Germany, including Professor Kohnen; Jens Bühren, MD; Martin Baumeister, MD; and Christine Titke, BSc. There has not been a day in my research career when I did not enjoy coming to work or when I did not learn something new, and this is largely thanks to successful collaboration with my colleagues, who always offer their unique expertise.
2. What is the focus of your current research?
Our current research centers on a number of aspects of cataract and refractive surgery. In the cataract arena, we are working on the measurement of astigmatism to improve IOL power calculation for toric IOLs and nomograms for corneal relaxing incisions. Of course multifocal IOLs (bi- and trifocal) are always an important topic. We are also focused on laser-assisted cataract surgery. In refractive surgery, we are conducting research on phakic IOLs, eye movements, postoperative quality of vision, presbyopia treatments, and standardized measurements for presbyopia. We are also conducting research on keratoconus screening and keratectasia prevention in laser refractive surgery.
3. How do you anticipate IOL technology will evolve in the next 5 years?
I see great prospects for customizable pseudophakic IOLs, including individualized aspheric and multifocal IOLs. These innovations will be made possible because we are now able to perform more precise diagnostics and surgery than ever before. Corneal ray tracing with Scheimpflug imaging—and, sooner or later, high-speed, 3-D optical coherence tomography—will allow IOL calculation based on the actual total corneal refractive power, making us no longer dependent on empirical estimations.
Femtosecond lasers in cataract surgery will presumably enable more precise procedures. This will contribute to increased interest in IOLs that are customizable to individual anatomic specifications, such as total corneal astigmatism and asphericity, and to individual visual needs, thus significantly improving visual performance and quality. Vision-rehabilitating solutions such as multifocal add-on IOLs also seem promising.
4. What do you consider to be the most exciting surgical development that you have contributed to?
There is a multitude of exciting surgical developments that I have been fortunate enough to witness firsthand, including the ever-evolving femtosecond laser for cataract surgery and the development of a nanosecond laser and trifocal IOL. Experiences with certain accommodating IOLs and intrastromal corneal lens implants are not successful as of yet, but being involved in their development is, nonetheless, informative and useful for future endeavors. There are other potential thrillers in the pipeline, but I am not at liberty to discuss them yet.
5. What are your interests outside vision research?
My biggest interest is my better half. With her, I enjoy the opera and traveling, and I try to indulge in those interests whenever possible. Furthermore, I am engaged in several charity projects with the Round Table service club in Frankfurt (http://www.round-table.de/). Because I am quite occupied with the family optometry business, there is little spare time left.