Innovation in Retina

From refractive to retina


J. Andy Corley: From Refractive to Retina

A proven innovator enters a new arena.

Jerry Helzner, Senior Editor
Edited By Emmett T. Cunningham, MD, PhD, MPH, and Pravin U. Dugel, MD

Mention the name J. Andy Corley and most members of the ophthalmic community will be quick to place him as the co-founder of Eyeonics, the pioneering IOL developer that brought the accommodative, presbyopia-correcting Crystalens to market in 2003 and was later purchased by Bausch+Lomb. They may also be aware that Mr. Corley led the successful effort to get CMS to adopt a groundbreaking policy in 2005 that allowed patients to choose a presbyopia-correcting IOL while sharing in the cost of this “premium” procedure.

Mr. Corley, who has had a long and successful career in the anterior segment, helping launch refractive procedures such as radial keratotomy and LASIK, has recently gotten involved in the retina area. He has taken a position as executive chairman of NeoVista, a Newark, CA, company that has developed a technology called epimacular brachytherapy for the treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration. This first-in-kind therapy, available in Europe and currently under study in the US, uses the company's Vidion ANV Therapy System to deliver a localized dose of radiation to the macula region to maintain vision and reduce the frequency of intravitreal injections for wet AMD patients.

As the co-founder of Eyeonics, J. Andy Corley brought the presbyopia-correcting Crystalens IOL to market in 2003.

“I have been on several teams that successfully launched new products, so I think that part of my role is still ahead of us,” Mr. Corley says. “Meanwhile, I am very excited about the opportunity and learning as much as I can about new developments in retina.”

Mr. Corley said he stayed up one night reading the data on the BRAVO and CRUISE trials that led to the approval of Lucentis for the treatment of retinal vein occlusion.

“That might tell you something about the life I lead,” he joked.

Mr. Corley says he sees the retinal area as a “great challenge,” characterized by a range of chronic and debilitating diseases that currently can be managed but not cured.

“Where we are in retina now reminds me of where cornea stood 20 to 25 years ago,” he notes. “Tremendous challenges, unmet medical needs, a focus on innovation, more investment coming in, a large population of patients and potential patients. We know we can improve outcomes. We know we can do better. Look at corneal transplantation and how far we have come in the past 20 years or so. Not so long ago it was a procedure with very low expectations for the patient. Today, the outcomes have tremendously improved.”

Recently, Mr. Corley spent two days observing a retina practice in action.

“What amazed me was the number of patients coming in for intravitreal injections for wet AMD. We have to find an alternative to the burden of monthly visits that is being put on doctors and patients,” he says. “Whether it is radiation and drugs, or sustained-release implants and radiation, or some other combination, we have to develop therapies that produce more durable responses. The retina doctors need more tools.”

As the executive chairman of NeoVista, Mr. Corley has entered the retinal arena, using radiation to treat wet AMD.

Mr. Corley says he has very positive impressions of the retina community in the short time he has been involved with NeoVista.

“These are some of the most intelligent and outstanding people you could find,” he asserts. “I'm just starting to form relationships within the retina community. I have lots of physician friends whose knowledge I rely on. I will continue to depend on the voice of the customer as my guiding information source for strategic decisions.

At NeoVista, Mr. Corley doesn't get too involved in current day-to-day operations as he notes that the company “has an experienced and dedicated management team.” He does pass on his ideas to management and expects his role to grow significantly as the launch of NeoVista's Vidion device grows nearer.

“I find retina a fascinating and rapidly changing space,” concludes Mr. Corley. “It meets all of the criteria for increased innovation: many unmet medical needs, new technologies that can be developed, approved and applied to those needs, and a large, growing market that can now attract major investors who will make big commitments in hopes of a financial return.”

In addition to his role at NeoVista, Mr. Corley, a graduate of Georgia Southern University, is also involved in venture capital investments as a partner in One Focus Ventures and has recently formed Yelroc Consulting, which assists in the development of medical devices. RP